Pianist of Willesden Lane, Fact-Based Play With Music, Premieres in L.A.; Hershey Felder Directs

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17 Apr 2012

Mona Golabek
Mona Golabek

Hershey Felder, the pianist-actor known for appearing in musical biographies about George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and classical composers, directs the California world premiere of The Pianist of Willesden Lane, featuring award-winning musician Mona Golabek, who draws on her own family's history for the theatrical event.

Previews begin at the Geffen Playhouse's intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater in Los Angeles on April 17. Opening night is April 25. Performances play to June 24.

The fact-inspired play with music is set in 1938 Vienna. The Pianist of Willesden Lane "tells the story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who is dreaming about her concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall," according to Geffen notes. "But with the issuing of new ordinances under Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream. Featuring some of the world's most beloved piano music played live, The Pianist of Willesden Lane is performer Mona Golabek's true family story, chronicling hope, survival and how through our darkest times, music has the power to help us survive."

"This beautiful tale told by Mona herself is performed in the style of musical storytelling that Geffen Playhouse audiences have come to know from me," said adapter/director Hershey Felder, creator and performer of George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven As I Knew Him and Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein. "Being able to work with Mona to present this piece has been an incredible joy both because her skill as a musician enables the evening to showcase some of the world's most beautiful and enduring piano music ever composed, and also because no one else could tell this story the way she can."

The work is based on the book "The Children of Willesden Lane" by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen.



American concert pianist Mona Golabek has appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center and the Royal Festival Hall. A Grammy nominee, she is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize and the People's Award of the International Chopin Competition, and has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries. She is the creator and voice of "The Romantic Hours," a syndicated radio program which combines classical music with readings of poetry, letters and stories, and can be heard on 80 stations and XM Satellite Radio. Golabek and her family are founders of the nonprofit, Hold On To Your Music, which spreads the message of the power of the arts, "especially music, to embolden the human spirit."

The creative team includes scenic designers David Buess and Trevor Hay, lighting designer
Chris Rynne, sound designer
Erik Carstensen, projection designer
Greg Sowizdrzal, production manager
Trevor Hay and production stage manager
Nate Genung.

The performance schedule is Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 & 8 PM, Sunday at 2 & 7 PM.

The ticket price for preview performances is $62 and the price for the regular run is currently $67. Tickets are on sale now at the Geffen Playhouse box office, via phone at (310) 208-5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.com.