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2 Pianos 4 Hands
On the Time Warner Cable Stage at MusicalFare Theatre
What others had to say*
Danny Sheehan, Thursday, September 24th, 2009
I saw this show on Wednesday night. And it doesn't matter that these guys aren't good actors, especially Kramer. It's still worth seeing. It was a lot of fun.
2 Pianos 4 Hands
Augustine Warner Onlinebuffalo.com, Friday, September 18th, 2009
Have you ever gone by the basketball courts in Delaware Park? While there are usually a lot of adults playing ball, there are always a lot of young people. Some certainly harbor the NBA dream that they will some day be playing in Madison Square Garden or Chicago Stadium and making vast sums of … more money. Almost no one actually makes it from a neighborhood court to one of those arenas. Within a few blocks of those Delaware Park courts, there is certainly a “piano nerd” or two, dreaming of winning the Van Cliburn competition or playing Carnegie Hall. Almost no one makes that jump either. And, that’s what “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is about, the dream that years of pounding those keys alone while your friends are out on that basketball court will pay off in the long run. Teachers push, parents nag and other players seem just a little more competitive and maybe a little better. This is a look at dreams crushed. Dream of playing Franz Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz No. 1” in Lincoln Center and instead you are playing “My Way,” for a bunch of drunks in some piano bar where the customers are so drunk they don’t realize you just played it and want Sinatra again. “2 Pianos” covers about a decade in the lives of the two characters and their families and teachers, with Randall Kramer (Richard) and Jeffrey Rockwell (Ted) playing all of the parts under Tom Frey’s strong direction. He performed in the Studio Arena Theatre production of the show a few years ago. Clearly not coincidentally, the show was written by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, two people familiar with pianos and the stage. The show is a progression of music, from music for the young pianist who can’t quite stay in tune, like “The Birch Canoe,” (the authors are Canadian after all) to Bach’s “Concerto in D minor, 1st Movement.” The show is also a progression of teachers, from those providing the first lessons to the music school professors who tell life-long pianists: You just aren’t good enough. Kramer and Rockwell are good in the varied roles, playing off each other as nun to student or father to piano-playing son. Obviously, they are good pianists. The play is also a lesson, that the pianists on the top tier like the late Vladimir Horowitz (featured in a recording of the Mephisto Waltz) are just the survivors of the brutal struggle to be the best, like the struggle those young Delaware Park basketball players face. “2 Pianos 4 Hands” is a show worth seeing.
2 Pianos 4 Hands
Doug Smith Buffalo Rocket, Friday, September 18th, 2009
From “Chopsticks” to Chopin, “Two Pianos, Four Hands” calls forth applause for anyone who ever taught or tickled the keys of this instrument of mass depression. The season’s first show for MusicalFare in Snyder is a hands-down hit. Artistic Director Randy Kramer and … more visiting actor Jeffrey Rockwell excel at both script and score through two lightning hours, autobiographing (in a way) Canadian musicians Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt. Friends and rivals since boyhood, Dykstra and Greenblat jointly created “2P4H” in Toronto nearly 20 years ago. Thousands of encores followed, including a run at the Studio Arena in 2001 with MusicalFare director Tom Frey as one of the pianists. The late and beloved Buffalo Evening News music critic John Dwyer used to tell of a concert at which the maestro and the cornetist kept nodding at each other, each bidding the other to start. That’s how “2P4H” begins at MusicalFare, with Kramer and Rockwell fussing over positioning and benches before settling into a Bach concerto. Some two dozen effectively-played pieces later, they will have worked their way through teachers, tests, auditions and competitions in a J-shaped curve to their present state of satisfied resignation. Rocket Man can barely imagine the rehearsal involved, a full recital along with a good-sized script. Rockwell has it a bit easier. He recently did the show in Los Angeles, under Frey’s direction. For Kramer the load would be staggering, his performance enhanced by a flicker of uncertainty and a flair for deadpan comedy. Irony gets its turn at the keyboard. First there are lashes and threats for insufficient practicing (“but all the other boys are out playing hockey,” a tipoff to the play’s Canadian origins). Then comes an order to get away from the piano, go outdoors and do something worthwhile. Suddenly comes the realization that for all their hard work, they may be in just over their pay grade (“like somebody could actually play that!”) Besides the pianists, Rockwell and Kramer portray several teachers with great affection, honoring the Mr. Scarletti’s and Sister Loyola’s who have at pains to themselves enhanced all our worlds by sharing their skills, however modestly. Two teachers have totally different takes on the “macho” of the one-handed arpeggio as opposed to the two-handed, leading Rockwell to a flourishing finish probably best described as climactic. Rocket Man can not recall liking the Studio’s version as much as he liked MusicalFare’s, continuing through Oct. 11 at Daemen College, 4380 Main St. Calling all piano teachers; this one’s for you. NINE ROCKETS (out of 10).
2 Pianos 4 Hands
Mary Loftus, Thursday, September 10th, 2009
I don't care what else you have on your schedule for the next few weeks - get your butts over to see this show at Musicalfare. It is BRILLIANT!!! RANDY KRAMER shows his chops in this great show, along with JEFFREY ROCKWELL. Great comedy as well as great live music!!!! I don't care what kind … more of music you like, this is for everyone who ever heard a great sound and wanted to hear more. The audience tonight was on its feet as soon as it ended, even though they had applauded all through it. It is a two-hander and, believe me, that was all that was needed here. It was hard for me not to jump up during each musical session and yell BRAVO!!! Written by TED DYKSTRA (who apparently is one of the characters in the play) and RICHARD GREENBLATT. I think their hearts are encased in the play. Set Design: (Gorgeous lighting effects) CHRIS SCHENK and CHRIS CAVANAGH Costume Design: LORAINE O'DONNELL and OLIVIA EBSARY. Runs from, Sept 9 to Oct 11. PLEASE PEOPLE - BELIEVE ME. You will hate yourselves for missing this show!!!!
Nancy, Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
We saw the show Sunday night and LOVED IT!! It was so entertaining. Thank you MusicalFare!
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By Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt
Directed by Tom Frey
Set Design by Chris Schenk
Lighting & Sound Design by Chris Cavanagh
Costume Design by Loraine O'Donnell and Olivia Ebsary