'2 Pianos, 4 Hands' hits all the right notes
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 9:51 p.m.
Is there any greater pleasure in theater than watching a master at his craft?
"2 Pianos, 4 Hands"
WHEN: Through Jan. 30. Performances: 8:15 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays
WHERE: Hippodrome State Theatre, 25 SE 2nd Place
TICKETS: $14-$27. Student tickets start at $5. (352-375-4477)
Try two masters, who are working at their craft with style, humor and panache in the Hippodrome State Theatre's production of "2 Pianos, 4 Hands." In just a couple of hours, Richard Todd Adams and Tom Frey take audiences on an enchanted journey through the lives of pianists Ted and Richard.
They begin with their childhood, move on to adolescence and reach final conclusions in adulthood.
The play, written by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt and directed by Mary Hausch, gives a new wrinkle to the term "musical theater."
Through a series of vignettes, Richard and Ted alternate in the roles of piano student and authority figure, their lives as would-be concert pianists remain in sharp focus. The good, the bad and the often-outrageous demands made upon those who dream of greatness unravel on stage like the pages from a personal diary.
The vignettes, which segue effortlessly into each other, are interspersed with music of the ages.
Adams and Frey don't just tell Ted and Richard's story, they play it.
They play Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. They play The Beatles, Billy Joel and Rodgers and Hart (Adams' bluesy rendition of "My Funny Valentine" reduces the audience to a puddle of tears amid a rainbow of smiles).
The two are consummate musicians and consummate actors.
"Two Pianos, 4 Hands" is irresistible, powered by the skill of its performers and the humorous memories of its old-time piano lessons. You will laugh when the boys learn to count musical time, consider the one-hand arpeggio and recite musical terminology.
But beyond the performances and comedy, there are underlying truths that give the play depth.
The play goes well beyond its initial Victor Borge-esque comedy trappings. Here, fathers and sons confront each other as they define their proper roles; it would be hard to find anyone who hasn't heard Ted's father's speech about settling for a normal life and going to the university to "have something to fall back on."
This solid advice has been given over the generations by parents of aspiring ball players, dancers, gymnasts, writers, artists and more. The themes in "2 Pianos, 4 Hands" apply to all disciplines, desires and consistency associated with life's dreams of achievement.
Ultimately, the play deals with our limitations while, at the same time, applauding our strengths.
Ted and Richard come to a happy realization at the play's end. Adams and Frey conclude the show with a beautifully rendered interpretation of Bach's Concerto in D Minor. It's the kind of thing that leaves you humming and entirely happy as you leave the theater.
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