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SCENE IT: Schimmel bares heart and soul in MORE THAN A HANDFUL

Barbara Loots


MORE THAN A HANDFUL is a drama with music about overcoming obstacles and realising that not everything that shimmers and shines (including Tinseltown) brings luck and joy. In this show, maestro Bryan Schimmel, reveals to the audience his music journey (and at stages the avoidance of such) as it has led him away and eventually back to South Africa.

From rock bands to Big Bands, string quartets to symphony orchestras, pop to hip-hop, Schimmel has experienced, performed and arranged it all. He has thrilled audiences around the world with his dazzling display of pianistic virtuosity. Now he is taking a pause, and reflecting on all that he has gained, lost, and learned while doing so

Regardless of any speech impediment (and with the encouragement of a somewhat bossy Alexa), Schimmel opens up to reveal his life through notes – both in musical- and letter-form.

In this one-man show, Schimmel is more an inspirational speaker than he is an actor – but then he never professes to be anything other than a person sharing his own story. He may not be revealing great acting technique in this, but that does not matter, because what he does reveal, time and again, is that he is a musical genius with golden fingers that make the ivory keys sing. In this production, one-half of the original ‘A Handful of Keys’ duo reunites with his director, Alan Swerdlow, to lay bare his heart and soul. Presented in the form of a Ted Talk with fantastic musical interludes, it is an inviting and inspirational experience and I am here for it all.

I’m pretty sure Schimmel’s aura consists of an array of dancing notes. During MORE THAN A HANDFUL, there are moments where it feels like his aura truly glows through those notes. He is a genius behind the piano. He has a unique talent to sweep his audience up in song and rhythm and make you forget about your troubles. Or, perhaps, it may rather be a case of Schimmel showing us all that it is okay to seek refuge in the things that inspire us; it is okay to be imperfect (in the opinion of others) as long as you allow yourself to seek your joy in that realm of inspiration. For Schimmel that is undoubtedly music, and we are so happy that he chose to share that joy with the world.

The show is vulnerable and raw, as Schimmel is so honest about his ups and downs. From his first audition as one of the Von Trap children in a South African staging of 'Sound of Music', and discovering the moving power of musicals with 'Jesus Christ Superstar' on vinyl, to finding personal meaning in the words that are the heartbeat of RENT, Schimmel really does remind to with great verve that there is no day but today.

Anyone who has been beaten down by life a bit will discover some relatable moments in this production: Be it in the light-hearted first act, or the darker, more revealing, second act. If you have truly lived, you will understand why Schimmel was compelled to tell his story, his way, as only he can.

This heartfelt and honest one-man piano-driven drama is on at Gallery 44 and Theatre until 29 January 2022. Tickets are available online via Quicket. Go support this brave musical genius as he dares to share life with all aspects of laughter and tears in the VR Theatrical presented MORE THAN A HANDFUL.

VENUE: Gallery 44 and Theatre | 44 Long Street | CAPE TOWN

DATES: 12, 13, 14 January at 20:00, 16 January at 15:00, 26, 27, 28, 29 January at 20:00


TICKETS: Quicket

GENRE: Live Performance, Play with music, Drama

LENGTH: 55mins | 15min interval | 50mins

AGE RESTRICTION: PG – Language and Adult themes

FEATURING: Bryan Schimmel

CREATIVE: Directed by Alan Swerdlow, Setting and lighting by Denis Hutchinson


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