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One piano, four hands – piano duo Worbey & Farrell come to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:41 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:43 15 June 2017

Worbey & Farrell bring their show Rhapsody to Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Scott Barron

Worbey & Farrell bring their show Rhapsody to Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Scott Barron

Scott Barron

Acclaimed concert pianists Steven Worbey and Kevin Farrell promise a performance with a difference as they dazzle on the ivories in their latest show Rhapsody at Norwich Playhouse.

Worbey & Farrell bring their show Rhapsody to Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Scott Barron Worbey & Farrell bring their show Rhapsody to Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Scott Barron

Two men, one piano, four quick hands and plenty of fun. Acclaimed concert pianists Steven Worbey and Kevin Farrell promise a performance with a difference as they dazzle on the ivories in their latest show Rhapsody at Norwich Playhouse.

The concert features the duo playing one piano, and plenty of comedy along the way. It features a wide variety of music, from George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

One half of the duo, Kevin Farrell, said: “We are both on a mission to cheer up piano recitals, so you won’t have seen anything like this before. We both play the same piano. Four hands, one piano. But we take the traditional piano duet and turn it on its head. Traditionally in a duet one playing is at one end of the piano, another player is at the other, but we tend to cross hands a lot. By doing that you get lots of colours and textures from the sounds. The aim is to get the best sound possible.”

The duo’s collaboration started in 2003 and they have since performed in more than 150 countries and achieved millions of hits on YouTube with their blend of comedy and barnstorming piano playing.

Before that, Steven Worby made a living from voiceovers for cartoons, while Kevin was a musical director and doing film work. But a fun collaboration after a few glasses of wine saw their careers take a completely different path.

Not that their blend of sparky comedy and sensational piano playing is off the cuff, they take months to perfect each piece, using it in unconventional ways to mimic the sound of a full symphony orchestra.

“We play the piano in a very unusual way contorting ourselves into all sorts of weird positions, not as a gimmick just to get the right sounds out of the pianom,” said Steven. “We want to make it sound like a big orchestra. In this show we play an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and that took us about 13 months to put together. It was such a lot of work but we think we’ve got it right. We certainly really enjoy playing it.”

Kevin adds: “It is very much like ballet in terms of the movements. That is why we constantly have to rehearse. There are also the problems that people just wouldn’t realise in terms of which of us is playing over the other or under the other. Sometimes it is very split second. And in this show at the every end of Rhapsody in Blue we are literally playing on top of each other, playing the same notes.”

It means they have to be nifty to avoid getting tangled up. “We rehearse so intensely that no we don’t often get tangled but we do we do make mistakes sometimes and hit each others hands. The worst thing that’s ever happened was when a piano stool collapsed on us and the audience howled with laughter. Afterwards a lady came up and said how did you get it to break at the right moment? We had to explain it wasn’t planned. We could have slipped a disc, but did keep playing!”

• Worbey & Farrell, Norwich Playhouse, June 16, 8pm, £15 (£12 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

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