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So much more to a party than the booze

Much is made of the fact that wine flows freely — onstage and off, at no additional charge — throughout “Three Pianos” at New York Theatre Workshop. But alcohol alone doesn’t make for a good party; forced frivolity is no substitute for genuine connection.

Much is made of the fact that wine flows freely — onstage and off, at no additional charge — throughout “Three Pianos” at New York Theatre Workshop. But alcohol alone doesn’t make for a good party; forced frivolity is no substitute for genuine connection.

Writer-arranger-performers Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy and Dave Malloy take Franz Schubert’s morose song cycle, “Winterreise,” and perform it sporadically between bantering with each other and the audience and engaging in would-be hijinks, both as themselves in the present and as Schubert and his cohorts in the 1800s.

“Three Pianos” is best when it actually gets around to Schubert’s music, but the nonsense in
between seems manufactured and therefore fails to elicit laughs or recognition. There’s no insight, which might be OK if it were just more fun. And the three performers are clearly not actors with the technical expertise to sell their weak verbal exchanges.

Stir-crazy musicologists and Schubert scholars in need of a break may find “Three Pianos” diverting, but for the rest of us it’s tedious. Unless of course you think you can drink enough wine in two hours to justify the ticket price.

 
 
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