2 Pianos, 4 Hands, which made music at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre Oct. 21, 1997-Mar. 22, 1998 and then moved to the Variety Arts Theatre, Mar. 24, will end its run there May 10.
The show was originally supposed to close after its 173-performance Promenade run and go on tour. Instead, understudies Jed Rees and Andrew Lippa continued in the New York production, while creators Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt began what was planned as a 45-week national tour at Washington DC's Kennedy Center (Apr. 7) for a four-week engagement.
The tour plans have changed though, and once the show ends in DC, it'll have a break and then come to Toronto sometime in the summer for a sit down production. No casting has been announced for that mounting. The tour plans will likely be decided around the time of the Toronto production.
Next year will see a Birmingham, England production of the show, which will transfer to the West End.
A spokesperson from Jeffrey Richards Associates confirmed a Variety story (Apr. 20) that because it's difficult to find piano virtuosi who can also act, the producers of 2 Pianos have auditioned more than 1,000 performers -- and have recently widened their scope to include women. Creators and performers of 2,4 Dykstra and Greenblatt premiered the piece with much success at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, March 1996, and since then have toured Canada with it. The Vancouver Playhouse opened its 35th season (Sept. 18, 1997) with this production, where it was fine-tuned before the New York debut.
Beginning with Bach's Concerto in D Minor, the accomplished actors and musicians regress to the days of their first piano lessons, when they played pieces like "In My Little Birch Canoe." Dykstra and Greenblatt, or Ted and Richard, as the audience comes to know them, take turns switching in and out of character to play piano teachers, music festival adjudicators, examiners, parents and other characters from their pasts. Ted and Richard grow up through their playing and their passion for music grows too as they tackle composers ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to Hoagy Carmichael, Billy Joel and Elton John.
Dykstra, 36, graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada in 1984 and went on to play leading roles at regional theatres across Canada, including several seasons at both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals. He played Cousin Kevin in the Toronto production of The Who's Tommy and received a Dora Award (the Canadian equivalent to the Tonys) for his performance as Cale Blackwell in Fire. He shares a second Dora with Greenblatt and Tarragon for 2,4. As a composer, he is currently at work on two new musicals; Dorian, based on the Oscar Wilde novella, and Club Lafayette, based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. His song "Never Doubt I Love" can be heard sung by his wife Melanie Doane on her album Shakespearean Fish.
Greenblatt returned home to Canada in 1975 after studying at London's Academy of Dramatic Art. Since then he has directed, acted and written for theatres across Canada as well as worked in film and television. He toured Canada with his solo show Soft Pedaling for two years and at Tarragon Theatre, he co-created and performed in The Theory of Relatives and directed True West, Public Lies, Gravity Calling, By A Thread and Paradise Express. Along with his award for 2,4, he has won three other Dora's for acting and directing.
Gloria Muzio directs 2,4 with Andy McKim as associate director. Muzio recently directed Judd Hirsch in Death of a Salesman in Toronto and at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. Her Broadway credits include revivals of Fifteen Minute Hamlet/The Real Inspector Hound, Candida and The Play's the Thing. Other New York credits include Other People's Money, Below the Belt and Grace and Glorie. McKim serves as associate artistic director at Tarragon and has directed productions across Canada.
Steve Lucas, who has worked with Robert LePage and Tarragon, designs the show with lighting by Tony Award-winner Tharon Musser.
For tickets ($40-$45) to Two Pianos, Four Hands at the Variety Arts Theatre, call (212) 239-6200.
As a special promotion, May 5, the show will offer a free ticket to anyone who can prove he's a legit piano teacher will get a free ticket (subject to availability) to 2 Pianos -- and can bring along the student of his choice. Not coincidentally, May 5 is National Teacher Day.
How to qualify? Just fax a letter from a school or a student to (212) 246 5461. Include a reachable phone number and the name of the student you'd take to the show.
-- By David Lefkowitz and Harry Haun