A Delightful Cabaret Confection

Sydney Morning Herald 12 March 2002

By Stephen Dunne
A delightful cabaret confection that nods towards both Victor Borge’s comic piano playing and the more standard tradition of sending up celeb vocalists. South Africans Colyn and von Memerty are good ivory ticklers, strong singers and appealing performers.



Back-to-Back Baby-Grand Brilliance!


Wentworth Courier 20 March 2002

By Bunty Turner
Two of the best pianists to hit Sydney have been packing them into the local opera house…Ian von Memerty and Roelof Colyn left the audience breathless on Sunday night after more than two hours of back-to-back baby grand brilliance. Everything from a finely executed Rhapsody in Blue to an astonishing potted history of musicals (114 in 11 minutes!), jazz, rock’n’roll and recreations of Liberace, Elton, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Richard Clayderman. A Handful of Keys is a four-handed tour-de-force…more than a revue, more than satire. Totally original!

Fantastic... Prodigious Versatility

Australian Jewish News 29 March 2002

By Peter Morrison
The versatility of the performers was prodigious as was their mastery of the instruments and of so many diverse styles of singing. The satire was rich and often hilarious. Highlights include “History of The Musicals – 90 years in 11 minutes. And yet for me, some of the best numbers were when the duo (jointly or severally) were more or less being themselves. Memerty’s version of Billy Joel’s contemplative Baby Grand towards the end was a quiet delight, whereas the pace otherwise was most hectic. Yes, it was fantastic. Watch for the return of the duo with the unpronounceable names.


A Celebration of the Piano


Daily Telegraph 14 March 2002

Two grand pianos and two grand pianists. A unique mixture of recital and comedy – a celebration of the piano and the artists who create for it.

Handful of Keys simply superb

The Citizen - 4 December 2001

By Gayle Edmunds
It is very difficult not to gush about this show; A Handful of Keys is quite superb in every way. It is a witty, intensely entertaining piece of creative genius. Ian von Memerty and Roelof Colyn tickle the ivories and the ribs of the audience with love, laughter and irreverence. Meet Bach, Beethoven and the boys as you have never seen them. A Sparkling piece of theatrical mastery.

Ivories tickle the funnybone

The Star Tonight - 5 December 2001

By Diane De Beer
It's great to have this invigorating show back. It was a great idea then and it's a great idea now.
With his former partner out of the country, Ian von Memerty had to find a new pianist. And it had to be someone versatile with piano skills, a good voice and the chutzpah to carry off the jokes and antics they get up to on stage. He's got all that and more with Roelof Colyn, who truly shines in his own right.
But this is a team effort and simply joyous to watch, as the two maestros work through the repertoire which takes us from an explosive Rhapsody in blue to an hilarious 10-minute run through the history of musicals, the honky tonk of Ragtime, some great women and men of song and much more.

A Handful Of Keys

Business Day - 3 December 2001

By Mary Jordan
In this revival of a 1994 smash hit, Ian von Memerty has an emotional engagement with his artistry that turns the interpretation of each piano note into a personal documentary. So every glorious tune, each lively song and pulsating melody, the cabaret sketches and tongue-in-cheek compilations become both a haunting musical journey and a father's desperate attempt to beat the odds.
von Memerty's playing is detailed and forceful, breezy and free-spirited. He is as fine a singer-actor at work anywhere in the country, always in control of the vocal line, moving across the stage with sheer physical magnetism. He is also master of the complicit glance, confident and witty, irreverent and bittersweet. Always his performance pulses with energy, but what makes it a singular triumph is that it reflects the insider's knowledge that life can be merciless.
Joining him in the recreation of chart music, covers and jazz standards, is Roelof Colyn. He shows the same infectious fervour, fuelled by nostalgia, for the colourful and inventive hits with which we all grew up.
Together, the two encompass the fields of minstrelsy, vaudeville, Broadway and jazz, featuring the musical legends of the twentieth century from radio, concert hall and the cinema. In a full and varied programme are examples from the colourful repertoire of Liberace, the stride-piano of Fats Waller, and the symphonic work of George Gershwin. David Foster's Winter Games had the proper feeling of a soul ballad; and Funeral for a Friend was evidence of Elton John's ability to give a fresh angle to a well worn theme.
It is all great fun.

Artistry and brio

The Citizen - June 1995

By Raeford Daniel
Wow! Here is Entertainment with a capital E - a spellbinding and wholly delightful adventure into music presented with flair by a dynamic duo as engaging as they are accomplished, whose consummate artistry at the keyboard, witty patter and side-splitting antics makes for a thoroughly diverting evening.

Great piano work spiced with glee

The Natal Witness - Monday 26 June 1995

by Yvonne Grimbeek
Ian von Memerty and Bryan Schimmel, mean piano players, have devised one of the most entertaining and funny shows revolving around the piano. Their two-hour show, which had the Playhouse audience falling around in their chairs, takes a fond and fanciful look at the influence of the piano in some of the world's best known songs.

Hitting the right notes

Daily News - Tuesday 20 June 1995

By Suzy Bell
Nostalgic, naughty, zany, classy glitzy, A Handful Of Keys has it all. Maybe even too much. But it works. Brilliantly. This slick show features the sometimes dour-faced, sometimes smarmy-faced pianist, Bryan Schimmel as Liberace in pink knee-highs, as a whining origami-wigged Stevie Wonder, the simpery, interminably slushy Richard Clayderman and singing 'Happy Days' in sarcastic tone with matching dead-pan expression. Fellow pianist, Ian von Memerty exposes a beautiful tushe, as firm and round as snookerballs. He explodes with feigned orgasms offering a raunchy rendition of Liszt, a flashy Ray Charles in melancholy mood singing, Georgia.
Go asn see this show. The audience loved it. Standing Ovation!

Pianists dazzle in polished show

The Natal Mercury - Tuesday 20 June 1995

By Billy Suter
If you're seeking the best entertainment in Durban at the moment, look no further than this slick, polished production - a great big lucky dip of tribute, send-up and sparkling showmanship which drew a standing ovation on opening night.

Four hands of keyboard hilarity and genius

Radio 702- 8 June 1994

Mike Mills
'A Handful Of Keys' is .... Sensationally brilliant!
Take two guys, each of them at a piano and see how you can make up a show that is not just entertainment with a capital 'E' but, in fact, the whole damn word is in capitals.
The lads show that they can achieve physically whilst playing the piano; swopping roles, swopping pianos et al with great diversity, and then from the high comedy they will swoop in to more serious mode to show their concert pianist ambitions with Gershwin's 'Rhapsody In Blue'.
Their collective experience has resulted in an evening of scintillating brilliance and considerable mirth.

Two hot pianos and a firecracker script

Sunday Times - 12 June 1994

By Barry Ronge
I left the Civic Theatre after seeing A Handful Of Keys feeling elated and almost giddy from being exposed to such a blast of original talent in this sparkling, rapidly paced show.
It is a rare, almost unique, form of entertainment. It involves pianos but it is not a recital. It contains songs but it is not a cabaret. In fact, its advertising tag - "An extravaganza for two pianos" - which I had dismissed as just another bit of puffery, is the most accurate description because it is a full theatrical production which is gorgeously lit and consumed.
Their pleasure becomes the audience's pleasure and this is one of the cleverest and most sophisticated musical entertainments!!

Standing Ovation was well deserved

Cape Times - Tuesday 9 August 1994

By Peter Frost
Take two baby grands, put them back to back, sit two of South Africa's best musical (and theatrical) talents behind them, add a box full of props and sprinkle the entire revelry with a confetti of witticism, and what have you got? Piano virtuosity and history which does for the old tinkler what Amadeus did for Mozart.
Their hasn't been a more deserved standing ovation for a long time!

It's a laugh an octave as pianists tickle the ivories

Cape Metro - Sunday 14 August 1994

By Michael Venables
When the musicians concerned are not only gifted pianists, performing dazzling keyboard pyrotechnics in perfect partnership, but also arrangers of rare talent and imagination; pleasing singers who can also impersonate other vocalists far more accurately than anyone else around; and, into the bargain, energetic and wickedly witty entertainers, then they can fill two hours without running out of ideas - and leaving their audience wanting more.

Baby grands sizzle in 'Handful Of Keys'

The Star Tonight - June 1994

By Garalt MacLiam
What out for this slick, pacey, tiptop piece of entertainment provided by just 'a handful of keys'. The keys in question are those of two baby grand pianos, set centre stage, facing each other, with the enormous talents of Bryan Schimmel and Ian von Memerty tinkling the ivories at either end, stage left and stage right.

Wall to wall delight

Scenario - July 1994

By Michael Burke
A Handful of Keys is one of the most exciting and satisfying entertainments I have ever experienced. It ranges from dazzlingly inventive, to outrageously funny, to exquisitely beautiful.
The show is rich in surprises, clever angels and witty touches.
The brilliant 'History of the Musicals' epitomised the genius of the show : combining knowledge, technique, flair, wit and love in a way that people relate to at a range of levels