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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

2 Pianos, 4 Hands at
Seattle Repertory Theatre

Also see David's review of Ruthless!

A pleasant, if unremarkable, vehicle for two versatile actors who also play a mean piano, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands is in good hands at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Director Bruce K. Sevy paces the show at a brisk gallop just over 90 minutes with no intermission, and with Seattle's own Mark Anders and his co-star Carl J. Danielsen, has cast a pair of ideal actors to gloss over the show's slightness with bravura performances.

Canadian co-authors Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt lovingly crafted this semi-autobiographical tale of two pianists, spanning from childhood piano exercises to college age angst to early mid-career doldrums. It is peppered with music ranging from Bach to Billy Joel, and in Anders and Danielsen's capable hands it all sounds dandy; the zeal and joy the two are having at the keyboards reads all over their faces.

But both actors' acting chops are equally impressive, playing numerous piano teachers and others who wander in and out of Ted and Richard's lives. Anders' character is perhaps the more sympathetic of the two as written, though it's the teamwork between he and Danielsen that gives the production distinction - despite the play's surface deep, easy laugh-filled look at the lives of two pianists who ultimately accept that they are not great, just pretty darned good.

Given the vastness of the Rep's Bagley Wright stage, it's a bit curious that the company mounted a two-man show on it, not to mention the fact that the two-man comedy drama Things Being What They Are has been playing at the Rep's smaller Leo K space concurrently. Not the best timing perhaps, but indicative of the economizing that all Seattle Theatres are faced with. In all, though, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands is an engaging diversion, one that ultimately made me glad my parents never forced me to take piano lessons.

2 Pianos, 4 Hands plays at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer Street at Seattle Center, through June 1. For further information go to their web-site at www.seattlerep.org.




- David-Edward Hughes



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