A Hand Full of Keys is a South African produced product that is of international standards. It is a hilarious two man piano show that has been showing on and off for the last 18 years. Originally developed to raise money for Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome, a disease both children of Ian von Memerty suffered from, this is a spectacle that tells the story of the piano, dating back to Mozart to the Modern era.
When the show first started it starred Brian Schimmel and Ian von Memerty playing two baby grand pianos simultaneously and telling the tales of great pianists throughout history and mockingly criticizing the various techniques of different piano legends.
Unlike other shows with set dialog, Hand Full of Keys continually makes a success by introducing different humour and making the jokes more applicable to current scenarios. That being said is that throughout 3 seasons I saw this show, I only picked up Dream Girl’s song “And I am Telling You” when I saw this in 2001 (as Dream Girls only became known to me later than 1994) and in the latest rendition of Hand Full of Keys they included some score of Wicked which only was created ten years after A Hand Full of Keys started. Also throughout the years talents like Norah Jones, Alicia Keys and Paula Cole made it to the mockery, where Alicia Keys was rumoured to be the love child of Stevie Wonder.
This show is absolutely brilliant. I have taken so many people over the years to see this and experience this sensation and everyone seems to find it brilliant.
In the 90’s on the 7 or something occasions I went to see this show the one absolutely fall on the floor rolling with laughter comment was about a feather scarf that was referred to as Felicia Mabuza-Suttle’s dental floss.
The music was excellent, the performances and execution of the piece was even better, not to mention the absolutely hilarious script. The thing that impressed me most about it was that it was a very long show where not once did they use any sheet music and all of the script and music was done from memory.
Hand Full of Keys continues to have performances all over and if you ever get the opportunity, this is a must see for all people, young or old.
Photo: Ian von Memerty and Brian Schimmel