Dueling piano players to take Auditorium stage on ThursdayWORTHINGTON — It’s unusual to find much dueling in the 21st century, but for David Eichholz and Ted Manderfeld, dueling is a way of life and pianos are their weapon of choice.
By: Alyson Buschena, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It’s unusual to find much dueling in the 21st century, but for David Eichholz and Ted Manderfeld, dueling is a way of life and pianos are their weapon of choice.
The two are bringing their show to Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center on Thursday and promise a Valentine’s date full of laughs and entertainment.
They will be doing their show “What a Wonderful World,” aimed senior audiences, at 2 p.m. Thursday.
"It'll be an afternoon of good music from their era," Eichholz said. "Good humor, costume changes, and lots of laughs and lots of love."
The second show, “Deuces Wild! Dueling Pianos,” starts at 7:30 p.m. and is billed as entertainment for all ages
“The evening show will be more high-energy ... and have skits where we need people on stage doing fun stuff with songs from “Don’t Stop Believing,” to “Ice Ice Baby,” to “Dynamite,” he said.
While Deuces Wild usually does corporate and festival performance, Eichholz said they are looking forward to performing in Memorial Auditorium. This will be their first time playing at the facility, though Eichholz said he thinks many people in the area will have heard of them.
Eichholz started performing at the Mall of America, where he played piano.
“It was so fun. People would sing along and clap along,” he said, adding that he performed a variety of songs and always had high-energy performances.
“What happened is that I was playing there and people would come in from different towns and they would want me to play in their town,” Eichholz said.
Taking the show on the road turned out to be a good choice for Eichholz. He soon found himself doing one-time events more than his regular job at the Mall of America.
The idea of doing a dueling piano show grew from there, and a second person was eventually added.
Manderfeld, a Concordia College of Moorhead alumnus, started his first job after college only to realize he hated it, said Eichholz.
Eventually, Manderfeld found himself auditioning to play with Eichholz on the road.
“He basically stalked me” Eichholz said with a laugh. “He came to the town I was living in and auditioned every day for a month — pure tenacity.”
As a strong performer, Manderfeld got the job on more than just determination. He had also produced multiple shows, including the Billy Joel and Elton John tribute show “Eye 2 Eye.”
Ten years and more than 1,300 shows later, the two are still together creating their unique style of entertainment.
Eichholz describes their music as “interactive, audience friendly, lots of laughs. From the minute we start, even before we start, we are interacting with the audience somehow.”
The duo keeps their program flexible, and Eichholz said that about half their program is usually planned and the other half impromptu.
“We judge from the audience’s reaction what’s working. Or we can always find some fun things to do.” he said, adding that the two never know if it’s going to be a teenager or a 80-year-old that they will try to make laugh.
While Deuces Wild spends most of their time in the Midwest, Eichholz said that last year they traveled as far as New York, New Orleans, Kentucky and Ohio.
Eichholz said one of his favorite moments on stage happened just couple of weeks ago.
“We had two almost 90 year-old ladies up on stage with us and one of them started getting fresh with Ted (who’s 32). He turned all red. If that can happen when you’re 90 . . . well, I guess that’s all I have to say about that,” he said.
The two Minn. natives travel with two baby grand pianos that were custom made for their show.
“I call them ‘Stage Magic Grands,”’ Eichholz said.
They also use a variety of musical instruments to add depth and interest.
“Even compared to other dueling pianos, we’re unique. There is no one doing what we do. We’re both on guitars, ukuleles, saxophone, and the penny whistle” Eichholz said.
Eichholz added that their show is audience-friendly but still edgy.
“It’s nothing a kid or grandma can’t see,” he said, “It’s so fun, and I’m proud of our show. You have to see it to believe it.”
For more information or for tickets, contact Memorial Auditorium at 376-9101.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached