WHEN international concert performer David Scheel wanted to scale down, all roads led him south to Dartmouth.
Living in the picturesque Blue Mountains with his Romanian-born wife Tatiana, Scheel said they needed to downsize their garden but didn't want to give up their views.
Otherwise, he said, the brief was straight-forward.
"We wanted one room that could fit the piano and the house had to have beautiful views," he said.
"We found a place that did both.
"Living here takes our breath away; it reminds Tatiana of the place she was born in Romania and it reminds me of old England."
Having found the Dartmouth property advertised online, Scheel said they were lucky to get one inspection.
"We didn't get a second viewing; the day after we went back to the Blue Mountains, they closed the border," Scheel said.
"But once we saw the house, we fell in love with it and we wanted to move, COVID or not!"
Now on a break from international touring amid the coronavirus pandemic, Adelaide-born Scheel can reflect on his acting, comedy and musical career, spanning 40 years.
His biggest break came when he wrote a show combining his passion for acting, mimicry and classical music, Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player.
It sold out in London's West End and three consecutive Edinburgh Festivals, then touring the world for 15 years.
"In my first year at the Edinburgh Festival, I was playing to half empty or half full houses - whichever way you look at it - at the Cafe Royal for three days before the critics reviewed me," he said.
"On the fourth day the audience was queued so far out the door, I couldn't get into the place!
"I said: 'I'm sorry you're going to have to let me in, I've got a show to do'."
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Raised by his Russian-born mother and English-born father, an orchestral conductor trained under Sir Thomas Beecham, Scheel said his musical training happened almost by osmosis.
"I started studying under my father when I was seven," Scheel said.
"I fired him when I was eight, rehired him at nine and fired him again at 10. At 12 I was sent to a Russian piano teacher.
"I let my music lapse in favour of acting; just after uni I upped and went to England, working as an actor.
"I've rarely been out of work from acting or music since; COVID-19 is the longest break I've ever had!"
Often compared to Victor Borge, Robin Williams and Peter Ustinov, Scheel was called "the funniest pianist in the world" by Broadway Magazine, while a BBC Arts review said: "He is as funny as any, wittier than most, and, uniquely, a concert pianist of international stature".
Scheel is also an award-winning composer and respected writer on conservation issues.
His memoir, titled Fame Can Wait, was published earlier this year.
"I've cancelled my British tour twice now and I'm not even considering going to the US," he said.
"I spend a lot of my day writing, I'm working on a new symphony, which will be my third, and I'm writing a novel. We're really looking forward to making a new life in a new region!"
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