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. Along the way they learn about music, but at the same time they learn about themselves. The play is screamingly funny at times, and occasionally quite touching.
After fifteen years of performing this show, the two stars are in perfect synchronicity. There is seamlessness to their delivery – just like their piano duets – where one leaves off the other picks up. Dykstra, in particular, offers a range of facial expressions from bewildered to total terror – he manages to turn beet red when he notices the huge audience at his first recital. Using a range of vocal mannerisms he portrays a music teaching nun, his pAl Richard’s mother and a pompous conservatory judge.
For his part Greenblatt takes on the authoritative music teacher role with aplomb. He also plays Ted’s domineering father, and a particularly nasty conservatory official who nearly destroys Ted’s budding career with his hurtful remarks. Whatever challenges these two face, they always come back to the keyboards – and each other. That core friendship that exists between Richard and Ted gives Two Pianos Four Hands a great deal of heart.
The story they tell, based at least in part on their experiences, is grounded in the world of Bach, Mozart and Chopin and their stylish playing of familiar pieces. A medley of pop tunes inserted into the second half of the program gives the two a chance to show off their versatility, but a performance of Bach’s “Concerto in D minor” that bookends the show is the real highlight.
You don’t have to be a Classical music aficionado to appreciate this show. In fact, that is what makes it such a success. Anyone with an ear for music will appreciate the journey these two young musicians must take. Curiously, one opts to attempt a career in jazz (despite all the classical training) but in the end both stick with what they know best.
We are lucky they have brought this show back home for a finale encore. If you have seen any of the previous productions you will, no doubt, want to see it again. For the uninitiated be prepared for a show filled with humor and heartbreak and some beautiful music all done in perfect harmony.
Two Pianos Four Hands plays at the Panasonic Theatre until November 20. For ticket information visit http://www.mirvish.com/shows/twopianosfourhands or call Ticketking: (416) 872-1212.