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2 Pianos, 4 Hands

Review by Treva McNally

Donna Gardner and Jacqueline Sadler in 2 Pianos 4 Hands. Photo: AlannaWhen 2 Pianos, 4 Hands was in Charlottetown for a short time in 1997 starring its creators, Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, I was unable to go and listened enviously to others rave about it. I really wanted to see it as I had taken piano lessons for many years, so when it was scheduled to be at the Mackenzie Theatre in the summer of 2001, I made sure I had a ticket.

Donna Garner and Jacqueline Sadler are the only performers in this play but with just their pianos for props, they are able to fill the stage with students, teachers, parents, adjudicators and examiners. Working together in a flawless team, the actresses create a cast of characters which includes an eight year old practicing on a piano, a teenager competing at a festival, a parent trying to make a child practice, and an elderly teacher trying to inspire an untalented student. The two stars are such good actresses that you almost forget they are also great musicians, but the music seldom stops as the scene shifts from one piano to the next without a beat being missed. Garner and Sadler play separately on their own pianos, together at one piano, and then together on two pianos, and through it all, they entertain and make you laugh.

You don't have to have been a music student to be able to appreciate the music festival adjudicator listening for three days to the same piece of music being performed by novice musicians, and any athlete can relate to the grind of having to practice something over and over to achieve perfection. Probably only a musician can appreciate the agony of being asked by an examiner to play a scale in C sharp minor when there are so many other easier ones, but everyone can appreciate being asked to perform a difficult task under pressure. That Garner and Sadler can take these situations and make them hilariously funny is a reflection of a good script in the hands of strong actresses.

The program says that this is one of the most successful shows in Canadian theatre history, having played in Europe, Australia, and the United States after being introduced in Canada in 1996. I'm glad it's in Charlottetown again and that I went to see it. It was worth waiting for.

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