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Review: 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS brings music and mirth to the North Coast Repertory Theatre

Review: 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS brings music and mirth to the North Coast Repertory Theatre

Playing through January 1, 2023

2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS is a love letter to classical music, the work it takes to dream of a life in music, and to the piano itself. With two talented and entertaining performers, the show is funny, bittersweet, and music to your ears. 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS is playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre through January 1, 2023.

The play is semi-autobiographical of the lives of the Canadian creator's Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, here played by Jefferson McDonald as Ted and Matthew McGloin as Richard. This play is a musical comedy on their shared experiences as young boys learning to play the piano.

Their stories both start at lessons, as they learn the basics the audience is also given give an excellent overview of musical notes, timing, chords, and the amount of practice it takes to become good a the piano. If you have never played a musical instrument the show and the musical terms are funny and informative, but if you have ever played an instrument or been in the house without someone who was learning how to play, then the show takes on an even richer level of entertainment and sympathy for these characters.

Review: 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS brings music and mirth to the North Coast Repertory Theatre

McDonald and McGloin quickly alternate between each other's characters, switching from nervous student at the piano to strict teacher, or stern parent next to the piano, and seamlessly playing music without dropping the melody as they switch. The musicianship here is excellent as learning songs individually transforms into complicated duet pieces, and then into even more complicated competition pieces.

As the characters and their piano skills and ambitions grow the audience sees the process and the work it takes to get hopefully go from good to great. In the first act, there is a very funny series of scenes as they have to practice their duet for a competition, the Kiwanis member who introduces their piano competition and is seemingly already weary of what is to come, to a performance of Greig's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" at the competition that gave me flashbacks of watching recitals go sideways. Only this time, you are free to laugh.

Review: 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS brings music and mirth to the North Coast Repertory Theatre

As they study for conservatory exams and take advice from teachers, the piano becomes less of an obligation and more of a passion. But the question is will that passion manifest into the life of a classical pianist?

Both McDonald and McGloin are incredibly accomplished pianists, and they are also very funny comedic actors. As a father explains to his son in the first act, you practice Mozart's Sonata16 in C Major, also known as the Sonata Facil (easy), not because it is easy but to make it sound easy. McDonald and McGloin make the acting while playing the piano look and sound easy indeed when it very much is not. The piano music ranges from classical with Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart to pop culture favorites like Billy Joel, and Elton John, to a medley of pop songs.

Directed by Tom Frey, who has played both roles as well as has directed over 20 productions of this show, the show is clearly made with love, for the story, the instrument, and the passion and dedication needed to strive for dreams with no guarantee of success.

If you play the piano or not, 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS is a musical comedy that is funny to watch and a pleasure to listen to as well.

How To Get Tickets

2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS is playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre through January 1, 2023. For ticket and showtime information go to https://northcoastrep.org/

Photo credit: Jefferson McDonald and Matthew McGloin in 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS. Photo by Mikki Schaffner



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