‘Upright Grand’: Love, frustration and humor

Dan Hiatt and Renata Friedman as Pops and Kiddo in ‘Upright Grand.’

The world premiere of “Upright Grand” by Laura Schellhardt starts the 43rd season of the usual grand theatre that TheatreWorks  offers.
“Upright Grand” gracefully unfolds with
scenic designer Kris Stone’s innovative revolving stage of pianos, benches, stools and mirrors, which glides the story into a fascinating plot of love, frustration and music guided by musical director William Liberatore and Schellhardt’s glorious writing. Three outstanding actors are involved in the revealing of this funny, bittersweet story of a father/daughter’s relationship.
Dan Hiatt plays the over-the-hill frustrated bar pianist with a depth of intelligence, humor and intensity that touches and reaches out.
Renata Friedman as Kiddo, Pop’s daughter, moves brilliantly from a gangly 12-year-old to a successful, sophisticated woman in her 30s, and develops into the concert pianist her father dreamed of becoming.
Multi-talented Brett Ryback plays numerous roles while supplying the piano playing implied by the main characters. The timing is excellent and he and the actors coordinate to make it seem that Pops and Kiddo are playing the upright or the grand at the appropriate times.
The music is like a delicate chain that tells the story of a talented pianist who never made it and his gifted daughter, and how their love for each other builds to their separation and Kiddo’s final understanding of her father. The dialogue is humorous for the most part with a moving tug of irony.
Meredith McDonough direction moves her cast with the sensitive touch that is needed to bring out the poignancy and humor of the piece. She will be missed since she is leaving TheatreWorks shortly to move to Kentucky to become associate artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
“Upright Grand” guarantees a first rate evening of enjoyable theatre.

Leave your comments