“This is stunning theatre that will leave you emotionally breathless. Marvelously adapted and directed by Hershey Felder, Lisa Jura’s story is a theatrical experience not to be missed.”
“Told with exquisite beauty and breathtakingly simple benevolence by Golabek and Felder, two world-class talents who epitomize the concept of artistic collaboration trumping all obstacles.”
“A stirring case of art preserving life… Golabek sitting down at the Steinway piano is enough to make your mouth fall open with a certain wonder at the way of the world.”
Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura was a musical prodigy who hoped to become a concert pianist. But when Hitler’s armies advanced on pre-war Vienna, Lisa’s parents were forced to make a difficult decision. Able to secure passage for only one of their three daughters through the Kindertransport, they chose to send gifted Lisa to London for safety. As she yearned to be reunited with her family while she lived in a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane, Lisa’s music became a beacon of hope. A memoir of courage, survival, and the power of music to uplift the human spirit, this compelling tribute to one special young woman and the lives she touched will both educate and inspire audience members.
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.
Mona Golabek is the daughter of Lisa Jura, a child piano prodigy born in Vienna, Austria, who came to England as a refugee in 1938 as part of the Kindertransport rescue operation. Her father, Michel Golabek, was a French resistance fighter, who received the Croix de Guerre. Mona’s grandparents died at Auschwitz.
Mona, deeply inspired by her mother’s story and the last words her mother heard at the train station – “Hold on to your music…. it will be your best friend”, became a concert pianist and has performed with major conductors and orchestras worldwide. The Grammy nominee and prolific recording artist has been the subject of several documentaries including Concerto for Mona with conductor Zubin Mehta. Her discography includes the best-selling Carnival of the Animals and Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, both recorded with her sister Renee. They feature the voices of Meryl Streep, Audrey Hepburn, Ted Danson, and Lily Tomlin.
Her mother is the subject of Mona’s acclaimed book, The Children of Willesden Lane, co-authored by Lee Cohen. The book has been translated and published in French, Italian, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, Hungarian and Polish.
In 2012, Mona made her debut in The Pianist of Willesden Lane, adapted from the book. The production, directed by Hershey Felder, has been celebrated by critics and audiences across the globe, with sold-out theatrical runs in New York and London. Ms. Golabek has received Best Actress Nominations from the New York Drama Desk and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
In 2002, Mona formed the Hold On To Your Music Foundation with the help of the Milken Family Foundation, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Annenberg Foundation. Its mission is to foster hope through the power of storytelling and music and embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Now, her foundation is partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation, creating a groundbreaking educational initiative, The Willesden Project, that brings her mother’s story to students and communities across the globe. To learn more about the Hold On To Your Music Foundation, visit www.HoldOnToYourMusic.org.
American Theatre Magazine has said, “Hershey Felder – actor, Steinway Concert Artist and theatrical creator – is in a category all his own.” Following 28 years of continuous stage productions and over 6,000 live performances throughout the U.S. and abroad, Hershey Felder created Live from Florence, An Arts Broadcasting Company, which has produced more than eighteen theatrical films to date. They include the recently-released The Assembly; Chopin and Liszt in Paris; Violetta, the story of Verdi’s Traviata; Dante and Beatrice; Mozart and Figaro in Vienna; the world premiere musicals Nicholas, Anna & Sergei; the story of Sergei Rachmaninoff; Puccini, the story of famed opera composer Giacomo Puccini; Before Fiddler, a musical story about writer Sholem Aleichem; Great American Songs and the Stories Behind Them, Leonard Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic, a documentary, and the popular Musical Tales in the Venetian Jewish Ghetto. Two seasons of programming are currently available at www.hersheyfelder.net. Hershey has given performances of his solo productions at some of the world’s most prestigious theatres and has consistently broken box office records. His shows include George Gershwin Alone (Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, West End’s Duchess Theatre); Monsieur Chopin; Beethoven; Maestro (Leonard Bernstein); Franz Liszt in Musik; Lincoln: An American Story, Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, Our Great Tchaikovsky, A Paris Love Story and Chopin in Paris. His compositions and recordings include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; and An American Story for Actor and Orchestra, and the new opera Il Quarto Uomo which premiered in Fiesole in the summer of 2023. He is the producer and designer for the musical Louis and Keely: ‘Live’ at the Sahara, directed by Taylor Hackford; and writer and director for Flying Solo, featuring opera legend Nathan Gunn. Hershey has operated a full-service production company since 2001. He has been a scholar-in-residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music and is married to Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. It was recently announced that Mr. Felder is the first Artistic Director and Managing Director of the newly restored Teatro Della Signoria in the center of historic Florence, opening to the public on September 19, 2024.www.teatrodellasignoria.it
There are several showtimes for The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Opening night will be February 3, 2024 and the show will run until February 18, 2024. View all the showtime offerings and purchase tickets so you will not miss out on this performance.
The running time of The Pianist of Willesden Lane is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Coming to Santa Barbara from out of town? Check the links below for 30% off hotel rooms from our hotel partner, Santa Barbara Hotel Collection, during the run of The Pianist of Willesden Lane.
Join Dramaturg Ward LeHardy for a free, lively, and informative half-hour talk in The New Vic courtyard before each Wednesday performance of The Pianist of Willesden Lane.
Mingle with friends and enjoy a complimentary martini with your ticket purchase of The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Held in The New Vic courtyard 45-minutes prior to curtain on the second Friday of the run.
Join us for a special conversation over tea with invited guest scholars to share their insights on a topic particular to The Pianist of Willesden Lane, as related to Santa Barbara history and culture.
Immediately following the final Thursday evening performance of The Pianist of Willesden Lane, meet members of the cast and participate in an informal 20-30 minute Q&A about the show.
Frederic and Nancy Golden
Deborah and Peter Bertling
John C. Mithun Foundation
Dan and Meg Burnham
Julianna and Tom Dain
Helene Segal and George Konstantinow