Three Pianos
A.R.T. Season
December 7, 2011 through January 8, 2012
"Like being cozily tucked away with a clutch of nerdy music-loving friends, Pianos transforms Winterreise's spectral solitudes into a parable of artistic community."
The Village Voice

Each manning a piano, the trio slips into a wild reenactment of a Schubertiad—a musical salon thrown by the composer and his friends.  Unfortunate butchery of the German language ensues as they grapple with fundamental questions about the nature of music, love, and drunk dialing.  Join in the eccentric merrymaking of this OBIE-winning music-theater event that wowed audiences and critics alike in its sold-out runs in New York.


A.R.T. Guide to Winter 2011-2012!   The Three Pianos Educational Toolkit!
Click to view the full digital publication online Click to view the full digital publication online
Three Pianos - A Sneak Peek: 

Three Pianos - A Sneak Peak: American Repertory Theater

Check out a sneak peak of Three Pianos! Co-writer and performer, Rick Burkhardt, comments on the production.

Creative team

Rick BurkhardtAlec Duffy, and Dave Malloy

With music from

Franz Schubert's Winterreise, Op. 89 (1828)

Directed by Rachel Chavkin

Scenic Designer/Illustrations

Andreea Mincic

Costume Designer

Jessica Pabst

Lighting Designer

Austin R. Smith

Sound Designer

Matt Hubbs

Production Manager

Dave Polato

Production Stage Manager

Jessie Vacchiano

"5 Stars.... The (creative) trio is a real-life music-theater supergroup... Full-blooded and full-bodied, Three Pianos lifts it’s glass to music, to Schubert and to the type of friendship that can make you laugh off heartbreak. It’s also a superb evening. Cheers."
TimeOut New York
"Just the cure for seasonal affective disorder conceived with hedonistic gusto. Three Pianos is a fast festive ode to a somber work of art."
Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Three Pianos, a theater work inspired by Franz Schubert's song cycleWinterreise, brings together three friends for song, contemplation, and wine.  Lots of wine.

In a season that’s notably short on Christmas shows compared to recent years, it’s actually pretty incredible how the three polymath players behind Three Pianos have turned Schubert’s melancholy and heartbroken song cycle Winterreise into a warm and jocular testament to music, music making, and friendship. More

At a Valentine’s Day party several years ago, three friends — Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duff, and Dave Malloy — discovered a shared love for Austrian composer Franz Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise.”

As they played the music, drank and debated, an idea was born: to create a theater piece that incorporates Schubert’s music.

The result is “Three Pianos,” and it takes place both in Schubert’s time and today, at an all-night party where pianos are not only played but used as props– they’re sat on, spun in circles, used as a bar and a bed. Even the audience gets to drink wine and take part.

The Village Voice describes the show as “like being cozily tucked away with a clutch of nerdy music-loving friends.”

“Three Pianos” won an Obie in New York and is currently playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge MassachusettsHere & Now‘s Robin Young met with all three performers there. They told her that the show is a recreation of something called a “Schubertiad,” a type of party that Schubert held with poets and composers where they would make art. More


A wild and informal romp through Schubert’s song cycle,Winterreise (Winter Journey), with three pianos, three pianists and a good sense of fun to balance the beautiful but melancholic music.

“Three Pianos” is an awesome party for music nerds.  More

Three Pianos at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge is a loving tribute to Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and his romantic song cycle Winterreise 


Not knowing all that much about Schubert I came away informed and curious, which may be what his emphatic cheerleaders want us to be. And, hey, if they want to turn Schubert into a household name, perhaps they should convince Lady Gaga to do a few dance remixes.  More

Three guys. Not singers, but they sing. Not pianists, but they play the piano. Three pianos. Actors whose love of music doesn't seem like acting. They're in Three Pianos, a theater piece — hard to call it a play — that's just begun a run at the A.R.T. (through January 8). In New York, it won an Obie. Here, it won my heart. More

In the beguiling production that is now at American Repertory Theater under the direction of Rachel Chavkin, a spirit of whimsy prevails for much of the evening, with plenty of wisecracks and slapstick elements.

But when the mood turns stormy or elegiac, and when “Three Pianos’’ touches deep chords of longing or solitude, it is with the understanding that nothing can pull you through a dark night of the soul like music. More

This evening makes no claims to be anything other than what it is: a great party by and with three actor/musicians united in their love—or should I say passion—for the music of Franz Schubert. More


Press Releases

For Immediate Release October 15, 2011Contact: Kati Mitchell American Repertory TheaterpresentsThree PianosBy Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave MalloyWith music...
For Immediate Release October 13, 2011Contact: Kati Mitchell American Repertory TheaterpresentsThree Pianos By Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave Malloy

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Run time

2 hours, No Intermission


64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets: 617.547.8300

Administrative Office: 617.495.2668


High-res image:
High-res image:
Venue Map

Need to know

Price of admission includes a glass of red wine or non-alcoholic cider.

Wednesday, December 21 at 2:00 PM was a dry performance.

In addition to our regularly scheduled post-performance discussions, Christopher Gibbs, Professor of Music at Bard College, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Schubert and author of The Life of Schubert, held a post-performance discussion on December 15.


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