Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Two Pianos, Four Hands

Greenblatt (l), Dykstra

Classical recital meets comedic genius
Two talented pianists have some very funny stories to tell
by Chris Lane

2 Pianos 4 Hands is a hilarious comedy, and like a musical, except with only piano playing instead of singing. More simply, it’s a Canadian classic that’s well worth seeing.

It tells the semi-autobiographical story of two boys growing up with their pianos. The plot follows them from piano lessons, to competitions at Kiwanis festivals, to Royal Conservatory exams, to figuring out if they’ll ever make it as professional classical pianists.

Dykstra and Greenblatt make up a wonderful comic pair, and the bickering between the various characters they play is priceless.

The show’s co-creators, Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, are now performing their internationally acclaimed show on a farewell tour.

The set is simple: two beautiful grand pianos in front of two screens that subtly and effectively set the various piano-oriented scenes. Dykstra and Greenblatt demonstrate that they are both very talented pianists, whether or not they really had the chops to become soloists.

Both performers are also excellent comedians, and they skilfully play not only their former selves, but also a host of piano teachers, adjudicators, parents, and one belligerent audience member. Greenblatt is particularly funny as his ten-year-old self, as his movements and expressions make for excellent comedy.

Dykstra and Greenblatt make up a wonderful comic pair, and the bickering between the various characters they play is priceless. One scene just about brought tears to my eyes, I was laughing so hard.

The music in the show includes everything from Mozart, to Billy Joel, to beginner piano tunes.  As the characters learn their pieces, there are plenty of intentional mistakes, but it’s impressive how well the performers manage to make even their mistakes sound great.

This play is for anyone who has ever taken music lessons and knows what it’s like to force yourself to practice, or who has spent years nagging someone else to do so. Some of the jokes might be lost on people without any musical background, but there’s more than enough comedy in there for everyone, and the music is truly excellent.

1 comment:

  1. The play was marvelous--we saw it this evening--but most of all it reminded me that being able to play and enjoy good music is fulfilling in itself, whether or not Carnegie Hall awaits. Music is for everyone and is part of life, not only for performers. Kudos to Dykstra and Greenblatt!


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