Solana Beach, CA—- Fate: destiny, outcome chance, providence.
When Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt were youngsters taking piano lessons, it never occurred to them that one day their paths would cross and they would be locked together playing dueling piano’s (if you will) and making a name for themselves, not as concert pianists an ambition it was for both, but as entertainers: ergo “2 Pianos 4 Hands”.
“2 Pianos 4 Hands”, billed as a fictionalized biography, is the personal journey experienced by both the younger and adult Ted and Richard (played by Mark Anders and Carl Danielson) as they travel back in time relating their growing up days in Canada, taking piano lessons from an early age and often (unbeknownst to each other) sharing the same piano teachers. Both had visions of being concert pianists playing Carnegie Hall.
Their stories that differ only by the temperaments’ of their family backgrounds, weave, parallel, and intertwine like broad strokes on a canvas up until and even after they meet as adults. Both had strong and domineering father figures in all things having to do with their lessons (‘you practice an hour a day and you’ll play like everyone else’) only deferring to their teachers when they entered the conservatory to continue their training.
Greenblatt was born in Montreal in 1953. He trained as an actor in London’s RADA and has written for major films across Canada and abroad. Dykstra was born in Toronto and has composed music across the country (“Tuesdays With Morrie”). He has also directed productions in Toronto (“Billy Bishop Goes to War”, “Salt Water Moon”). He is heralded as a composer, actor, writer and producer. He and Greenblatt co-wrote this show. In 1997 it was shown off-Broadway and later transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
The show currently making its North Coast Repertory Theatre premiere starring Anders and Danielson is no stranger to either performer. They have been playing together, in this show directed by Bruce Sevy, off and on over the last ten years.
Both go back and fourth between the younger and more mature men with ease, hamming it up a bit as the younger more complaining kids who just want out of practicing. As they mature, they find themselves competing with each other for the same prize, but soon learn that for their dreams to be realized, practice with a capital ‘P’ needs to be their mantra. After years of ‘practice’ and competition however, they finally concede that their dreams had been in vain.
In the end both changed course and gave up their ideals of becoming concert soloists. Richard moved in the direction of Jazz playing in little venues and bars and Ted turned to classical. Their getting together was and is the best of both possible worlds. In 2003 the two reunited in Toronto to perform at the Elgin Theatre reviving their show once again to sold-out houses.
The story unfolds in between some unbelievable and fancy finger sprinting by both artists. It took a nano second after they both adjusted their tails and seated themselves at their respective, back to back baby grand’s and started playing Bach’s Concerto in D minor to know that we were in for a treat.
Throughout the entire intermission less production, interrupted only by bits of story line, no less than twenty or so pieces or parts of compositions from J.S. Bach to Liszt to Shubert to Hoagie Carmichael, Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, Chopin, a medley of Pop Tunes, Billy Joel, Elton John and Lorenz Hart, were being played and to perfection, I might add.
Resident set designer Marty Burnett reproduced Scott Weldin’s original design with Beethoven and Bach on pedicels either starring down at the two boys or back at the audience. Either way, their presence looms in the pieces heard throughout the evening.
The show is a pretty well oiled machine that could probably run on automatic by now. It’s entertaining and magical as a musical composition and a biography even though it does get repetitive after a while. But so does practicing.
“2 Pianos 4Hands” is well worth the trip to Solana Beach.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Feb. 13th
Organization: North Coast repertory Theatre
Production Type: Fictional Biography
Where: 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Suite D, Solana Beach, CA 92075
Ticket Prices: $30.00-$47.00