No matter what your hobbies were as a kid — either by choice or by force — we all know the trials and tribulations of chasing a dream and the harsh realization that dream may never come to fruition.
Next up on the Belfry Theatre’s calendar is 2 Pianos 4 Hands, a well-known and very successful Canadian play about two young boys and their relatable dream to “make it” by becoming concert pianists.
“Although it is centred about the piano and mastering an instrument, it could be about hockey or tennis or anything,” says Patrick Burwell, who is playing the role of Richard. “It’s about the struggle to master something and the relationship with parents, teachers and the instrument itself.”
Written by director Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra about their real-life experiences (and originally performed by them), 2 Pianos 4 Hands will take the audience through the two boys’ careers as pianists from lessons to music festivals and auditioning for conservatories and everywhere in between.
Featuring Canadian actor Burwell as Richard and American Tom Frey as Ted, the two actors will embody more than 15 roles each.
“We will each play many roles and they are all ages, all ethnicities, all genders,” Burwell said. “It’s really simple. To me that’s one of the beautiful things about the piece. We don’t even use hats or costume pieces, it’s just us and our physicality and our voices and the instrument s— literally it’s two pianos and four hands — that’s what you get.” That’s just what the audience will see on stage — the set features two baby grand pianos, two picture frames and nothing more.
Burwell, who has performed the role of Richard in over 300 shows says, “I remember seeing it at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto before it had gotten any hype. I sat in the audience and thought ‘how in the world is everyone in the audience finding this funny?’ It seemed so specific to me because I had taken piano lessons, but I realized the story is so universal, that’s the amazing thing about it.”
From chopsticks to concertos, the various piano tunes are often used to illustrate an aspect of the character’s growth or the “crazy, whacky hi-jinx” that takes place during a two-handed side-by-side duet on a single piano that leads to a physical altercation among characters.
This funny and inspiring play will connect with audiences of all ages and musical preferences.
2 Pianos 4 Hands received the Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding production and the Chalmers Award for playwriting. It has been performed more than 5,000 times at 150 theatres around the world.