The behind-the-scenes crew of In the Next Room is a resourceful bunch, and here is just one of many examples of where their skills have recently come into play:

Last Thursday, the vertical piano on the Next Room set was pronounced fit by a piano tuner, but by the time Friday's understudy rehearsal rolled around the instrument's nagging problem - a "c" on the bass end that's been sticking - began acting up again. 

Friday evening before showtime, company manager Matthew Markoff, the company manager, and Leah Nelson, the Lyceum's prop person, sprang into action. Markoff left messages for four piano tuners, all of whom were already closed for the day. Later that evening, Jacob A. Climer, the show's assistant costume designer, stepped forward. He informed the backstage staff that his parents are piano dealers, and he was thus well-positioned to drum up assistance. 

In the event, it was not necessary. Shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, a tuner technician from Beethoven Pianos in New York (a company whose website,, greets you with the first 8 measures of Ludwig van's piano sonata Op. 2, No. 1, a piece that I spent most of ninth grade trying to memorize), called Markoff back. Within the hour, the technician was at the Lyceum, where he took care of the problem. "Leah got the guy's cell-phone number," Markoff told me. "With all the concert halls in New York, it turns out that there are people who are on call for this sort of problem. That's good to know for the future." 

Meanwhile, In the Next Room actor Maria Dizzia, who plays the onstage piano during the performance (with exquisite grace), had to make do on Friday evening with the missing "c." This was a particular challenge during her last number, which is heavier on the lower end of the keyboard than the music earlier in the show. It is a tribute to composer Jonathan Bell's lovely original work for In the Next Room that the last piece, in spite of the missing note, was, reportedly, still lovely. 

BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Timesand the editor of