News / Halifax

'The music is bigger than the player:' 2 Pianos 4 Hands comes to Neptune Theatre

The play traces two musicians as they strive to be concert pianists, and how they deal with the realization they might never make it.

Richard Todd Adams (left) is Ted and Bryce Kulak is Richard in Neptune Theatre's production of 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Richard Todd Adams (left) is Ted and Bryce Kulak is Richard in Neptune Theatre's production of 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

Director Richard Greenblatt sees pianos when he looks at Neptune Theatre’s latest play – but he’s been corrected by those spotting chess, tennis, and figure skating.

With previews this week, 2 Pianos 4 Hands officially opens Friday night and runs until March 6. Co-written by Canadians Ted Dykstra and Greenblatt, the play debuted in 1996 and traces the “semi-autobiographical” life of characters Richard and Ted, as they strive to be concert pianists, and how they deal with the realization they might never make it.

“We were convinced it was just going to be for for music nerds, or even worse piano nerds,” Greenblatt said with a smile Wednesday after a media preview of the show at Neptune’s Fountain Hall.

But after the first workshop, Greenblatt said a friend told them the show was about tennis - not the piano “at all” - since he’d lived the same experiences with teachers, parents, and pressures of that sport.

“People bring their own experience to it, even if they’ve never had a music lesson in their life,” Greenblatt said.

Now in its 20th year, the two-man play can be a challenge in finding the right actors to pull off the high-level piano skills, while juggling roughly 20 characters and a huge amount of dialogue, Greenblatt said.

Including different types of music gets people nodding along, Greenblatt said, like seeing one character performing My Funny Valentine when auditioning to be a jazz faculty, or Billy Joel’s Piano Man in a scene where they feel they’re destined to end up in a piano bar.

Richard Todd Adams (left) is Ted and Bryce Kulak is Richard in Neptune Theatre's production of 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Richard Todd Adams (left) is Ted and Bryce Kulak is Richard in Neptune Theatre's production of 2 Pianos 4 Hands.

Both Richard Adams as Ted, and Bryce Kulak as Richard, had performed the play before and had most of the dialogue and music memorized before getting together a week before the show opened in Halifax.

Adams said as it’s nearly impossible to deliver a perfect performance because there are so many notes and lines of dialogue it will never happen, the pressure comes off and adrenaline kicks in.

“It’s not the point of the show. We’re portraying characters who are striving towards something, so it shows their humanity to have them be imperfect,” Kulak added.

Greenblatt said many people give up childhood passions when they realize they might never make the NHL, or be a chess master – but why stop there?

“Just because you’re not a concert pianist doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the piano,” Greenblatt said.

“The music is bigger than the player. That’s just part of life, and you should enjoy it for its own sake.”

Tickets start at $27, and are available at neptunetheatre.com, the box office, or by phone at (902) 429-7070.

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