The musically eclectic production, about two pianists and the stories behind their lifelong obsession with the instrument, is not simple to cast or develop since musicianship and personality are keys to the experience, so ATL has booked the Marquis Entertainment production of the work by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt.
The original creators help maintain international productions of the show; Greenblatt directs the Marquis Louisville staging that pairs pianists Richard Carsey (as Richard) and Tom Frey (as Ted) for the first time. Each actor-pianist has played the show elsewhere.
The comedy with music, first performed by Greenblatt and Dykstra at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre in the 1990s, is the story of a pair of budding musicians "and their piano-nerd childhoods," according to ATL production notes.
Billed as "a musical piece about a lifetime's obsession with 88 piano keys," this production "is a hilarious and heartwarming story performed by two gifted actor musicians who portray a bevy of characters, from the aspiring musicians themselves to eccentric teachers, proud parents, fierce competitors and brutally honest adjudicators. And all the while they're tickling the ivories, offering up everything from Bach and Beethoven to Billy Joel's 'Piano Man.'"
Performances continue in the Pamela Brown Auditorium to Feb. 28. Actor-pianist Frey previously played Richard in productions around the country and understudied Dykstra in the most recent Toronto run. Carsey played Richard in the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre run of the show.
Carsey is the artistic director of Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee. In the fall, he relinquishes that position to pursue acting, performing and conducting projects, while maintaining the role of principal conductor at Skylight.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Actors Theatre box office at (502) 584-1205 or visiting www.ActorsTheatre.org.
ATL, meanwhile, is preparing for its annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, the next major event at the three-venue, Tony Award-honored not-for-profit.