|We all know from the upteen Jo’burg Follies and various other productions that Kevin Feather is not only an accomplished musician, he has a sharp comedic mind as well. But hearing funnyman Tobie Cronje playing piano? Wouldn’t that be like expecting Richard Clayderman to do stand-up comedy?
It’s not as far-fetched as you think. Believe it or not, the man with the elastic face that can send an audience into convulsions with the mere twitch of an eyebrow once taught piano to pupils in Katlehong. And he began his career as the piano player for The Fantasticks.
So, was he kicked out of the township and band because he was lousy? Judging by his comfort on the ivories, I don’t think so.
But horrors! does that mean he’s going all, like, serious now? Naah. Fans needn’t worry about Cronje hanging up his joker’s hat.
In fact, in 2 Pianos 4 Hands Cronje and Feather manage to combine what is generally perceived as serious (classical music) with what is generally perceived as frivolous (comedy). This blend is a thoroughly entertaining one that keeps the eyeballs glued and the funnybone tingling.
Feather and Cronje appear on stage, nattily dressed in tux, cummerbund and tails, and proceed to the two pianos on the stage.
|Okay, we think, here comes a quiet, perhaps unremarkable evening of classical music featuring two big names in the entertainment biz drawing crowds more on the power of their big names than on the actual reserves of talent while the genuinely talented orchestras have to scrabble around like hungry chickens for cudos and crowds.
The first indication that this elitist pre-judgment is false doesn’t take long to emerge: the two grown men immediately start scampering around and jostling for the best piano and stool like naughty schoolboys.
This is where we are introduced to the delightful semi-autobiographical script written by Canadians Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, recalling with mixed feelings their days as young piano prodigies.
Feather and Cronje start off as two prepubescent geeks from the same neighbourhood who are sulkily and grudgingly taking piano lessons, at the behest of their parents. There are many, I’m sure, who will recognize that situation, either with a fond, nostalgic smile or a grim shudder!
We experience the typical blank stare of the bored schoolboy as their menagerie of highly-strung, eccentric tutors tear their hair trying to teach the lads scales, rhythm, posture and passion. Then there are the demanding parents who have set plans for young Teddy and young Richard.
|All these roles, or course, are expertly played by Cronje and Feather, who switch from pranks to spanks with consummate ease.
Petulant brats who’d rather be playing cricket or watching Star Trek and later, obsessing about girls are rapidly transformed into cocky young men with virtually no social life outside those inanimate heaps of keys. Their love-hate relationship with the piano is probed with much insight.
Themes of parental pressure, personal goals and rejection are humourously explored, while the pair cleverly and expertly weaves contemporary and classical music pieces into the dramatic equation.
At the end, as two middle-aged men reflecting on their failed musical careers while getting merrily sloshed, they philosophise about what went wrong and decide that ambition be damned do something for the love and fun of it!
This is where the actors’ true skill as pianists is demonstrated, banging out an exhilarating piece that had the audience on its feet for several curtain calls.
2 Pianos 4 Hands is anything but a dull piano recital this classical blast from the past is a hoot!
|"2 Pianos 4 Hands" has become an international hit and the authors, Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, toured Canada, their home country, for two years before taking the show to Broadway and London's West End. The South African production has already played to capacity houses in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, where an extra performance was added due to public demand.
Garalt Macllam from the Star Tonight summed up the performance perfectly when he said, "At the end of the show the enthusiastic crowd called the players back four times to take their bows. The duo demonstrate their virtuosity... It's a hoot!"
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