When you first hear John Bayless play the piano, you are transported by his art. When you actually watch him play, you are stunned to realize that he is playing with just one hand.
His new, one-man show, One Hand One Heart: My Life and My Music, co-written with Stewart Schulman, explains why — and how — this is so. The performance will take place at Landmark on Main Street, as part of their Dim the Lights series, on Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m.
Bayless has delighted audiences with his virtuosic music for more than three decades. A prodigy at Julliard, he was invited to join the inaugural class of NYU’s musical theater masters degree program, where he studied with Leonard Bernstein, Julie Styne, Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.
Bayless recalls those early days, saying, “Juilliard was great in the ’70s. I was on a fast track. Going somewhere. Then, in 1978, it got greater. I met my childhood hero. My mentor. The one and only Leonard Bernstein. And for 12 years we shared the most amazing friendship, as mentor-student, father-son. I miss him every day.”
Bayless’ performing career soared, with appearances with some of the most prestigious orchestras at the great concert venues of the world. Then, in 2008, a stroke left him isolated from the musical life he’d always known.
This new play with music by Gershwin, Bernstein, Puccini, Mancini, Rachmaninoff, Rodgers, Legrand and Bayless himself, takes audiences on the amazing journey of Bayless’ life through his music — his highs, his lows and back again — to his “second act” concertizing with his left hand all alone.
The evening will also feature special guest artists, including singer Mia Pinero and dancer Meredith Fages of Heidi Latsky Dance. A documentary film crew will be recording the performance for the feature length documentary, “Left Alone,” currently in production.
Bayless has an extraordinary imagination, sly wit, tremendous musicality and an imposing technique. The New York Times calls him “an evocative pianist with a lovely piano sound and considerable personal pizzazz.”
With tremendous determination and drive, Bayless has worked his way back to a full life in music. This show is replete with his musical prowess and trademark humor.
Tickets for John Bayless’ One Hand One Heart are available through Landmark’s box office, 516-767-6444, and online at www.landmarkonmainstreet.org.
Landmark on Main Street is located at 232 Main Street in Port Washington.