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2 Pianos 4 Hands at Stages Soars with Brilliant Musicianship and Humour

As children, Ted and Richard don’t have much in common except for the shared desire to become classical pianists. But does either of them have what it takes? 2 Pianos 4 Hands is a play with music that follows the dynamic and comical journey of two boys into adulthood, their musical aspirations as big as the black Steinway grand pianos they play masterfully on stage from beginning to end.

From “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” to classical works by Bach (D Minor Concerto) and Beethoven (Pathetique Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, 1st and 2nd Movements), with some Billy Joel (“Piano Man”) and Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire”), the show is a delightful two hours guaranteed to make you laugh and sigh in sympathy as life happens to these young pianists. Each actor plays a wide variety of authority figures, including piano teachers, parents, and deans of conservatories.

A flood of memories resurfaced of my two piano teachers, Mrs. Clark and Mr. Smith, who took me through the many antics I witnessed during 2 Pianos 4 Hands which opened last night at Stages Repertory Theatre. I was also reminded of the constant haranguing by my parents to “practice, practice, practice.” I never got so far with my piano playing to be rejected by a conservatory but if that had been the path I had chosen, I am certain that I would have been rejected just like the two unfortunate characters in 2 Pianos 4 Hands, Ted and Richard.

Direction by Tom Frey is perfectly paced, crisp, and always commanding. Mr. Frey has also designed the simple but effective set with assistance by Michael Mullins and Josh Morrison.

Writers Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra, whom have portrayed themselves for thousands of performances over the past ten years, have written a hugely entertaining, enlightening, and enthralling piece of theatre that is tremendously satisfying not only from a theatrical point of view but from a musical point of view as well.

Tom Frey also tackles the role of Ted so thoroughly and completely that very soon in the play we realize that he is presenting a maddeningly funny tour de force performance. Mr. Frey is quite the clown, perhaps Lou Costello to his acting partner’s Bud Abbott, and handles his multiple roles so confidently and ingeniously that we are constantly impressed with his craftsmanship. Not to mention his glorious touch on the Steinway grand.

Jeffrey Rockwell as Richard perfectly portrays the straight man, or Bud Abbott to Mr. Frey’s Lou Costello. His performance is so beautifully crafted and polished in every way that we almost shed tears when he is rejected from a jazz conservatory. The chemistry between both actors is palpable and charismatic from the minute they begin the play with what seems like a loving tribute to the late great Victor Borge and his hilarious piano antics. Mr. Rockwell’s musicianship is splendid.

Lighting design by David Gipson is stunning and effective as the lighting changes subtly from color to color splashed onto the upstage cyclorama.

2 Pianos 4 Hands is a dazzlingly brilliant evening of theatre that will touch you deeply and passionately as the story of these two friends unfolds over fifteen years of their lives around the piano.

The show runs in the Yeager Theater at Stages Repertory Theatre through October 28.

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By: Buzz Belmont of The Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle - Theatre Review

Starring in the Globe Theatre production of A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, Straker proved she was up to the task of portraying the country music superstar. The role is difficult - it's just not enough for the actor to be able to carry a tune with a pleasant voice. To bring credibility to the role, the voice has to be similar to Patsy's - it has to be husky, robust and powerful, and Straker's voice filled the bill quite admirably.

Writers Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra, whom have portrayed themselves for thousands of performances over the past ten years, have written a hugely entertaining, enlightening, and enthralling piece of theatre that is tremendously satisfying not only from a theatrical point of view but from a musical point of view as well.

Stages Repertory Theatre’s production of Richard Greenblatt & Ted Dykstra’s 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS is a lot of fun to take in and experience. The humor in the show carries it from moment to moment; yet, the immaculate and remarkable piano playing is what really mesmerizes and delights audiences. Overall, it is a family friendly show with a few instances of innuendo and language that may make the show inappropriate for children under the age of 10 or so. With the talent behind the keys at Stages Repertory Theatre, it is easy to see why the show is such an international sensation.

Adroit writing, skilled performers and an inventive recollection of childhood and adult musical travails merge into a fresh and invigorating comedy, laced with insights and delivering a rich comedic and emotional experience.

Whatever happens to all those kids who are burning with ambition to become the next Renee Fleming, the next Yo Yo Ma, or the next Oscar Peterson only to find that, for one reason or another, they are not quite going to make it?

Having seen 2 Pianos, 4 Hands three times across the years (that’d be six pianos, 12 hands), I have to report that it seems better, and even fresher, than ever.

Created and performed by Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra, Two Pianos, Four Hands follows the careers of two budding pianists from early music lessons through music festivals and conservatory auditions.

TORONTO - Were it not for a bit of divine intervention, this is a show that could just as easily be called 2 Sticks 4 Skates, 2 Feet 4 Pointe Shoes or even 2 Snowboards 4 Feet.

There are some shows you can see over and over again. They are like the welcome return of an old friend. Such is 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt won’t be closing the keyboards on those pianos just yet. October 29, 2011 - December 4, 2011.

A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline at the Fireside Dinner Theatre, Fort Atkinson, WI, United States: May 5, 2011 - June 26, 2011

Shakespeare's Will at The Globe Theatre, Regina, SK, Canada: February 23, 2011 - March 13, 2011

2 Pianos 4 Hands at North Coast Rep, Solana Beach, CA, USA: January 12, 2011 - February 6, 2011

2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, MN USA: December 7, 2010 - January 2, 2011

Sexy Laundry at the Gateway Theatre, Richmond, BC, Canada November 11, 2010 - November 27, 2010

2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Perth Theatre, Scotland, UK - November 9, 2010 - November 20, 2010

2 Pianos 4 Hands at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland UK - October 28, 2010 - November 6, 2010

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at the Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI USA September 17, 2010 - October 9, 2010

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse, Rock Island, IL USA September 3 - November 6, 2010  

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at The Round Barn Theatre, Amish Acres, Nappanee IN USA June 1, 2010 - July 11, 2010

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline at Back Bay Events Center, produced by Fiddlehead Theatre Company, April 7, 2010 - April 17, 2010

blood.claat, one ooman story at the Firehall Arts Centre, Vancouver, BC, Canada April 7, 2010 - April 17, 2010

Mum's the Word United Kingdom Tour - Robert C Kelly Productions April 6, 2010 - July 31, 2010. For a complete schedule visit: 

2 Pianos, 4 Hands written by Ted Dykstra & Richard Greenblatt
at The Little Theatre on the Square, Sullivan, IL USA
March 12 - March 21, 2010

blood.claat written by d'bi young anitafrika at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  March 2 - 21, 2010

Monthy Python Meets Broadway in Robin Hood - The Environmental Family Musical

2 Pianos 4 Hands | A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline | Bear With Me | bittergirl: The Musical |
Hamlet (solo) | Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre | Mom's the Word | Mom's the Word 2: Unhinged
Ross Petty Productions | Santa Baby | Sexy Laundry | Shakespeare's Will | The Summoned