Books on Stage: Encore Engagement of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” at Westport Country Playhouse in December

Westport Country Playhouse will present the acclaimed musical memoir “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” from December 5 through December 22. The production returns to the Playhouse by popular demand after a sold-out run in April 2017. 

Starring Grammy-nominated pianist and storyteller Mona Golabek, the unique piece is about Golabek’s mother, who, as a young Jewish girl, was sent from Nazi-threatened Vienna to London, holding on to her music to stay alive. Golabek intertwines the true story of family, hope, and survival with piano selections by Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, and even a little Gershwin.

“We are honored to bring back this internationally acclaimed artist in her mesmerizing and stunning theatrical event that has been a great success and riveted audiences, not only last year in Westport, but also in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Chicago, New York, and London,” said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. “It is a tale told deep from the heart about the power of music to heal and sustain the soul.”

Based on the book “The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival” by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, and adapted and directed by Hershey Felder, the play is set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg. Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura spends her time practicing piano, dreaming of becoming a concert pianist.  But with Hitler’s armies advancing into Vienna, her parents obtain passage for her on the Kindertransport, forcing Lisa to leave her family behind and put her future on hold.  Lisa’s daughter, Mona Golabek, shares her mother’s gripping tale of escape and the people she met on her journey.

The family-friendly show is appropriate for children age 10 and up. 

Free-of-charge events surrounding the production include a documentary film screening of “Finding Leah Tickotsky: A Discovery of Heritage in Poland,” on Monday, December 10, at 7 p.m.; and an age-appropriate group discussion with community Holocaust survivors, hosted by the ADL and Federation for Jewish Philanthropy, on Saturday, December 16, following the 3 p.m. matinee performance.  Both events will take place in the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center. 

Westport Country Playhouse is located at 25 Powers Court, off Route 1 in Westport. For more information, visit westportplayhouse.org, or call the box office at (203) 227-4177 or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529.

Photo credit: Hershey Felder Production 

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