2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS written and performed by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, directorial consultant Andy McKim. Presented by Mirvish Productions, Marquis and Talking Fingers at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge). Runs to October 5, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm. $25-$65. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Did you have a childhood dream of being the best at something? Did you have to practise regularly to turn that dream into a reality? Then you'll connect with 2 Pianos, 4 Hands even if you've never taken music lessons. This reprise production of the 1996 Ted Dykstra / Richard Greenblatt show reminds us what charming performers these two guys are, how entertaining their writing can be and how they can give pretty good piano performances of everything from Bach to the Beatles.
From childhood days taking piano lessons - they alternate between playing the students and their parents or teachers - the pair play up the comedy of the musical situations, creating vivid portraits of demanding elders and whiny kids who'd rather be out slapping a hockey puck.
Sometimes the early comedy is played too comfortably and for easy laughs, but Greenblatt and Dykstra know how to win over their audience, whether it's with the duels in Kiwanis contests or the sometimes funny, sometimes serious tensions between fathers and sons.
This time around, the touches of darkness in the lives of these would-be professional pianists are even stronger. The pressure of a conservatory exam, the lacerating comments of those who could advance the boys' careers and the numbing career realities of teaching or piano-bar entertaining all ring true.
The sting of rejection, real or possible, is like a slap in the face, until a final realization and acceptance of their pianistic skills allow the two to move on but not close their keyboards.