"2 Pianos, 4 Hands”
Hartford Stage, Hartford
“2 Pianos, 4 Hands” is an absolute charmer! Music, pathos, wit, humor all combine to create a memorable piece, written by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt (with Greenblatt directing). It is music, music, music, but, more than that, it is the poignant, funny story of two aspiring musicians who hope to make it to the big time, to become famous concert pianists.
It is the story of Richard and Ted (no doubt, to some degree, the authors’ own tales) who are first seen as reluctant pupils suffering through enforced practice sessions. Through the years each one deals with eccentric teachers, demanding parents, nerve-wracking evaluations, tense competitions, fears, disappointments, rivalries, and stress, stress, stress. The story glides flawlessly through its many short scenes as the two actors switch personae, changing from child to adult, from teacher to pupil, from persecutor to persecuted.
Richard Carsey and Tom Frey (playing Richard and Ted respectively, as well as their many other characters) are fine actors with a perfect sense of comic timing and the ability to mimic foreign accents. But they are also gifted pianists who offer excerpts from a program of pop and classical pieces. Bach, Mozart, Grieg all have their moments on stage, as does Billy Joel and Richard Rogers. In Hartford Stage’s capacious theater, with its excellent acoustics, every note sparkles.
And the dialogue sparkles as well, thanks to the authors’ firm command of the material and the actors’ ability to bring the cast of characters to life. It is the amusing, and ultimately moving, tale of two journeys through the world of wannabe concert pianists.
“2 Pianos, 4 Hands” is an absorbing tale to any one who has made these journeys, even part-way. But one need not be a musician or an aspiring concert pianist to appreciate this delicious show. It is top-drawer entertainment.
-- Irene Backalenick
July 24, 2006