CAN OF WORMS written and directed by Jamie Lamb, with Melyssa Ade, Andrew Bush, Lamb and James Roussel, at Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way), September 12 to 14, Thursday and Friday 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 pm. $8. 416-343-0011.
Jamie Lamb likes to call his new comedy 2 Pianos, 4 Hands For Dummies. The dummies part comes from the fact that, unlike the Richard Greenblatt/Ted Dykstra hit, he doesn't have to play classical music."Instead of two talented piano players looking to be virtuosi, it's two regular guys just trying to play the piano," says Lamb, no slouch in the piano department himself. He's worked for years as a musical director, composer, accompanist, writer, actor and director.
In Can Of Worns, he and James Roussel play a couple of piano movers trapped in a storage room with two pianos, two other people and some sheet music.
"It plays with this idea of being stuck," says Lamb. "It's four characters in an enclosed environment learning about each other. How did the piano movers get stuck in this blue-collar job? How did the others -- the movers' boss and a woman who works in the storage room -- get stuck there, too?"
Lamb's been carrying this piece around in his back pocket for a while. Even in its current workshop form, you get the feeling that the show satisfies pretty much every artistic impulse he has.
"I've played the piano before in shows that aren't comedies. I've done straight comedy, straight theatre, played the piano and acted in musicals like David Young and Paul Ledoux's Fire and done musical improvisation," he says. "There's a bit of all of this in the show."
Lamb is one of those artists -- Greg Morrison, Sean Fisher and Matt Reid are others who come to mind -- who bridge the fields of comedy, music and theatre.
Earlier this year, he directed, dramaturged and starred in Natasha Boomer's clever show with music, Lovers Take Your Marks. Last month he improvised on the keyboards for lots of top improvisers at the Jamboree Improv Festival, including the talented young musical improv troupe named after him, The Lamb Chops. (He taught most of them in his production/instruction company, StageFLY!)
"The comedy people and theatre people tend to hang out in two separate camps in the city," he says. "I always try to remind people that improv comedy is theatre, too -- it's on a stage, with an audience. Sure, some folks lower the bar, say, "Hey, let's just do some characters, wing it and have a couple of beers and laughs.'
"But look at a troupe like New York's Blue Man Group. They raise the bar. They remind you of the scope of what you can do."