One-woman show interweaves storytelling and classical piano performance
Theater J presents the Washington, DC debut of the Hershey Felder production of The Pianist of Willesden Lane, starring internationally-acclaimed storyteller and concert pianist Mona Golabek in a limited engagement at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the Family Theater. The production is adapted and directed by Hershey Felder and based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival by Golabek and Lee Cohen. Performances are September 12 – 30.
Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitz, The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the true and inspirational story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who is dreaming about her concert debut at Vienna’s storied Musikverein concert hall. But with the issuing of new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream.
Grammy-nominated pianist Mona Golabek performs some of the world’s most beloved music as she shares her mother’s riveting true story of survival. The Pianist of Willesden Lane is infused with hope and invokes the life-affirming power of music. The production makes its Washington debut after critically acclaimed, sold-out runs in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, and London.
Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr calls The Pianist of Willesden Lane “an extraordinary story, told in a tour-de-force performance that truly must be seen to be believed. A concert pianist of Mona Golabek’s stature and artistry, performing her own mother’s incredibly moving true story, is an event that is sure to bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.”
Golabek also shares her mother’s story via the Hold On To Your Music foundation, which seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the ethical implications of world events such as the Holocaust, and the power of the arts, especially music, to embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity. The foundation’s work is disseminating the book The Children of Willesden Lane and accompanying educational materials to students and teachers everywhere.
Hershey Felder is a pianist, actor, playwright, composer, producer, and director. He has created and performed the plays George Gershwin Alone, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, MAESTRO Bernstein, Beethoven, and Our Great Tchaikovsky, among others.