Monday, July 07, 2014

Personal stories of the Piano Man. Victor Janusz stars in “Hands Solo” at ACT.

Victor Janusz (photo Jimmy Malecki)
Hands Solo: Pianoman
Starring Victor Janusz
July 10-20, 2014

Victor Janusz is combining two of his favorite things: music and acting. He’s developed a memoir, Hands Solo: Pianoman, for the stage that performs from July 10-20 at ACT Theatre. He is one of the hardest working men around town, performing as a cabaret act and a solo pianist at Salty’s On Alki, among other gigs.

The roughly 80 minute show will give you a chronological look at his life through music that means something deep and particular to each age. Victor explains, “I want people to realize that the guy or gal behind the piano is investing his or her lifetime of relationships and stories into each song played.”

Some of the song selections and stories sound hilarious. The press release says, “Wonder about his surreal nine-year stint at Nordstrom playing for mannequins ("Mannequin Blues"); And revel in the tale of his 'command-performance' for then-Presidential Candidate Obama ("Living In A Blue State ") – where he exchanges business cards with the future President and causes a nervous breakdown among his Secret Service detail.” Others focus on his difficulties accepting himself as a gay man.

Directed by Lori Larsen, long time Seattle actor and director, he’s honed the stories down to a succinct and heartwarming story. Victor says that Lori, “is great at helping me settle down.” Lori agrees. “He gets over excited. It’s part of his personality, and I don’t want to undermine that. An audience needs someone completely relaxed, and that’s a key to a great performance. There can’t be an anxiousness to please, for example. It’s a great story with songs that affected him deeply.”

Lori says, “The message of the piece is that music stimulates every part of your brain. He plays (regularly) for people with Alzheimer’s and he has a segment about it, and when they hear these songs, they remember the  words and they stop being zombies and really come alive. Music is such an important part of life. How lucky we are to have it be part of our lives and lucky to have Victor bring music to us.

“The power of music is to make life worth living. Nothing affects us more emotionally than music. (His memoir) helps us think about the songs in our lives that have affected us as well. Victor has the ability to share how a song defines a period of your life.”

Victor has worked to refine the memoir over a couple of years at places like Yale, New York City and San Diego. He would love to be able to tour to “in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii and the District of Columbia.” He also has an album coming out in August. I’m sure that albums of his work will be for sale at the performances. You’ll be able to take “Vic” home with you that way!