If you’ve ever aspired to be the best at your craft — be it sports, dance, theater, art or music — Portland Stage’s latest play is sure to stir memories and tickle the funny bone.

For lovers of music and theater, the production is a tempting treat that has it all. “2 Pianos 4 Hands” crackles with laughter and leaps to life with acting versatility, all the while providing an intimate piano recital from two highly skilled musicians.

“2 Pianos 4 Hands” is based on the collective memories and experiences of co-writers Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, The two first met in 1993 while appearing on the Canadian show “So You Think You’re Mozart.” It’s said they immediately thought, “Wow, you’re as good as me!” It was rivalry at first listen.

As the two began to swap stories about their lives, they realized that, although eight years apart in age, they shared a similar life story. Both underwent intensive piano training from the age of 7 to 17, at which point each had a fateful conservatory audition that would reshape his life from that day forward.

Encouraged to write down their memoirs, by 1994 they had begun workshopping a script at the Tarragon Theater in Canada under their own company name, Talking Fingers. The result was a production that fictionalizes their lives from age 7 and has the pair growing up together as competing proteges. It premiered in 1996 and has since been seen by millions of audience members around the world.

Early performances of “2 Pianos 4 Hands” starred Dykstra and Greenblatt who, along with being talented pianists, are also accomplished theater, television and film actors. The pair performed together in the production over 750 times before relinquishing their musical reins. No more than 20 people have played the parts, though, due to the multitalented complexity the roles demand.

Portland Stage brings two of those performers to Maine: Jeffrey Rockwell as Richard and Tom Frey as Ted. Frey also serves as director. Each has tried their hands at both roles, and Frey alone has performed in the production over 600 times.

The amount of talent on stage is astounding. Frey and Rockwell vividly, and hysterically, bring to life a variety of real-life colorful characters from Dykstra’s and Greenblatt’s lives, including their parents, teachers, judges and an outrageous bar patron. They transform into the characters by changing their accent, posture, attitude and facial expressions. There are no costume changes. They also dig deep to get in touch with their inner child, magically regressing into the childhood and teenage versions of the story’s co-writers.

The pair’s acting prowess and comic flair alone are worth seeing. But that’s just the icing on this ever-so-tasty cake. The title “2 Pianos 4 Hands” refers to a challenging duet style that requires two pianists to play their parts on two facing pianos. For the production, Portland Stage has brought in two stunning grand pianos, on loan from Starbird Music & Piano Gallery.

Frey and Rockwell aren’t just required to occasionally play passable piano pieces. They must demonstrate fluency in compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Albeniz, and Schubert, as well as a variety of pop and jazz tunes. And, they do so masterfully, in a setting that’s up close and personal. Two lifetimes’ obsession with 88 keys has never been more fun or enjoyable to watch.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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