Written May 27, 2018
(Gananoque, ON) They’re lurking out there, somewhere in Canada – kids with big dreams, kids who are going to make it all the way to super stardom, and by gum they’re going to do it with their own greatest God given talents. The future can be nothing but rosy for the next great Canadian classical pianists.
“‘2 Pianos 4 Hands’ is the riotous tale of two Canadian boys, Ted and Richard, sharing the same goal: concert pianist stardom,” said the Thousand Islands Playhouse in a recent release. “They work fervently towards their dream amidst pushy parents, eccentric teachers, hours of repetitive practice, stage fright, the agony of competitions, and the dream of greatness. As they mature, Ted and Richard become more aware of the gap between the very good and the great, and come to the humbling realization that greatness may be out of their reach.”
While musical greatness may be beyond them, their comedic attempts to get there are far from weak. The audience roared with sympathetic laughter as they watched Ted (Max Roll) and Richard (Bryce Kulak) stumble purposely through years of lessons and competitions, constantly working their way toward the prize – to become Canada’s number one Classical Pianist.
But the play isn’t about being a classical pianist. It is about the journey, the work, the tears, the preparation that everyone goes through attempting to achieve a lifetime goal. Whether the ballet or hockey, CEO of your own personal mega corporation or political leader, at some point most of us tread the path and strive to be the very best.
“The play is amazing,” said Kulak. “It has been going for 22 years now, and I don’t see it ever stopping. It’s a story everyone can identify with, in every country and every language.”
Opening originally at the Tarragon Theatre, Toronto, in 1996, “2 Pianos 4 Hands” has played throughout Canada and around the world. It is known as the most successful Canadian play, and appeals to people of all ages and all interests.
“Hundreds of productions on every continent, thousands of performances in several languages, and millions of spectators around the world later, we are humbly reminded just how true the Law of Specificity is,” said Richard Greenblatt in his Director’s Note. “The quest for excellence in any endeavour is a dream that often begins in one’s youth, and is challenged by standards that seem to be unattainable to all but a miniscule portion of the population.”
Music in the show ranges from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Grieg through Hoagy Carmichael, Billy Joel, and Rodgers and Hart. The keyboards are playgrounds for nimble fingers, and even when those fingers stumble and get tangled up in themselves, somehow they reign supreme and produce the punch lines, the triumphant smiles, and the sighs of happiness expected from good supporting actors. Without the music the show would not work, and no one has to be a classical music geek to thoroughly enjoy this brilliant production.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” said Lois Creed, 93, of Dexter, New York. “I remember spending hours playing scales, working hard, and wondering if I could ever get it right. I never wanted to become a professional, but I do remember dreaming of how wonderful it would be if I could just learn to master the piano.”
“It’s a play that reaches everyone,” said Roll. “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to play Ted, and hope to see the show continue on well into the future.”
The play has won both a Dora Award (Outstanding Production – 1996) and a Chalmers Award (Playwriting – 1997), as well as being ranked one of the ten most-produced plays in the US by American Theatre Magazine in 2003. The Connecticut Theatre Critics Circle awarded it an award for Outstanding Touring Production in 2006, and it has been featured in many top-ten lists for Production of the Year, including the New York Post in 1997.
“2 Pianos 4 Hands” runs from May 24 – June 16, 2018, at the Springer Theatre, 185 South Street, Gananoque. Running time for the play is about 2 hours 10 minutes plus intermission. Show times are Tuesday through Thursday 7:30; Friday and Saturday 8:00 pm; with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Saturday after opening night). Tickets are $35 for adults, $33 for seniors age 65+, <30 Club $19. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. For more information, please go to www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.