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2 Pianos, 4 Hands

Richard Greenblatt (r) and Ted Dykstra in their
runaway hit, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands

Two person musical dramatic comedy by Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra originally created in a twenty-five minute version for Tarragon Theatre's Spring Arts Fair in 1994, and recreated in its present two-act version April 2, 1996 also at Tarragon. It starred the two creators, with Andy McKim as consulting director. It subsequently toured across the continent, notably to the Promenade Theatre (New York), where it opened on October 30, 1997, produced by Edwin Mirvish and David Mirvish. The piece has justly won itself and its creators the Dora Mavor Moore and Chalmers Awards. It has also been translated into French and presented at Théâtre du Rideau Vert (May, 1999). The Rideau Vert production was translated by Danièle Lorain, directed by Denise Filiatrault, designed by Steve Lucas (set), Daniel Fortin (costumes) and Michel Beaulieu (lights) and featured Gregory Charles and Jean Marchand. The cast from this production performed the work in English, directed by Ted Dykstra, at the Geary Theatre in San Francisco in February, 2000.

It has played in five continents and 200 cities in South Africa, Japan, London's West End, New York, and Paris. Over 4000 performances have been seen by two million people in its various incarnations.

In November 2013, Dykstra and Greenblatt performed their work for what was purportedly the last time at the Citadel Theatre. This production was taped, and in 2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic closed theatres around the world, it was streamed by Broadway HD. They again resurrected the show in June 2022 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

2 Pianos, 4 Hands is a brilliant work about two young men, ostensibly the creators, and their love/hate relationship with the piano, from lessons and fraught festivals as children, to auditions for upper-echelon schools.

Both characters are good pianists, and run the gamut of musical stylings during the piece, but also interjected are scenes of life lived around the piano. This is a work all the more dazzling for its simplicity, and it has caught the hearts of audiences and critics. (The irascible New York critic, Clive Barnes, called it, "An unexpected charmer.") It is a tale that is not only about the piano but about the dreams we all have and must abandon in our lives.

Montreal's La Presse's Jean Beaunoyer wrote of the work, "...a show to see and, I'd add, with the whole family. A lovely piano lesson but also a lovely lesson in life." The British critics largely agreed. Georgina Brown of The Mail called the work, "a playful piece [that] is enormously well-observed." John Gross of The Sunday Telegraph wrote, "It's bittersweet, beautifully observed and altogether compelling."

The pianists in 2 Pianos, 4 Hands have also been played by women -- Shari Saunders and Karen Woolridge in a Citadel Theatre (2000) production, directed by Richard Greenblatt.

Richard Greenblatt’s recent book about the history of the show, Two of the Best in the Neighbourhood is a chatty chronicle that celebrates the success of the play, but with some regrets about how the two playwright/actors dealt with their success.

Source: Michael Posner. "One body, many talents," The Globe and Mail, 29 Nov 2000

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois.

Last updated 2022-06-18