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Behind-the-scenes visit to Willesden Lane
Behind-the-scenes visit to Willesden Lane
A BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT
“THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE”
In advance of its run at the Royal George Theatre,
director/adapter Hershey Felder and concert pianist Mona Golabek
give a sneak preview of their theatrical tribute to Lisa Jura,
a Jewish pianist who came of age during the Nazi regime
(Chicago) Growing up in Austria, talented young Jewish pianist Lisa Jura dreamed of a debut at Vienna’s Musikverein concert hall. Then her family made a heart-wrenching decision: to send her alone to London on the Kindertransport with the hope that she would be saved from the Nazis. Her mother, also a pianist, believed that Lisa’s talent would save her. As Lisa boarded the train and said goodbye, her mother told her: “Hold on to your music, it will be your best friend in life. And never forget that I love you."
Now Lisa Jura’s daughter, concert pianist Mona Golabek, has partnered with actor, director, and expert storyteller Hershey Felder to bring Lisa Jura’s story to the stage. Their production, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, comes to Chicago’s Royal George Theatre this April. In advance of its highly anticipated run, Ms. Golabek and Mr. Felder present a one-night-only, behind-the-scenes look at this poignant theatrical tribute to Lisa Jura and all those whose tenacity and creativity helped save lives.This special program, titled The Creation of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” takes place Monday, April 8 at 7 pm atSpertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, 610 S. Michigan Avenue.
Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg, The Pianist of Willesden Lane weaves a harrowing tale as 14-year-old Lisa is forced by the rising threat of the Third Reich to leave her family. Her father manages to secure a single ticket for a place on the Kindertransport, a mission that transported nearly 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe to British foster homes and hostels. Often these children made the journey alone and were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust. Ms. Golabek movingly depicts the anguish of Lisa’s mother, who with her husband must choose which of their children to send to safety. Through difficult and dangerous times, Lisa Jura inspired hope in the children of the Kindertransport with her gift of music.
Director/adapter Hershey Felder is a Steinway concert artist, actor, playwright, composer, and producer known for productions including the award-winning George Gershwin Alone, an intimate one-man tribute to Gershwin that he performed around the world, and Maestro: Leonard Bernstein, a similar project focused on Bernstein. Aside from these works, his other current projects include An American Story for Actor and Orchestra exploring the last day in the life of Abraham Lincoln, I Found My Horn, and Lem. Mr. Felder has been a Scholar in Residence at Harvard University's Department of Music and is married to former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell. Mona Golabek introduced him to her mother’s story in 2009, sparking their collaboration on this project.
Mona Golabek (Lisa Jura) is an American concert pianist who has appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, and Royal Festival Hall. She is a Grammy nominee who has been the subject of several documentaries including Concerto for Mona with conductor Zubin Mehta. Ms. Golabek’s syndicated radio program, The Romantic Hours, combines music with poetry. Her recordings include Carnival of the Animals and Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite featuring Meryl Streep, both recorded with her sister, Renee Golabek-Kaye. Both sisters were taught by their mother, Lisa Jura, who is the subject of Ms. Golabek’s acclaimed book, The Children of Willesden Lane. Ms. Golabek founded Hold On To Your Music, a foundation dedicated to spreading the message of the power of music. With the help of the Milken Family Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation, she created education resources, which, with her book, have been adapted into school curricula across America.
Tickets to The Creation of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” are $50, $35, and $25. All seats are reserved. Ms. Golabek’s and Mr. Felder’s books and CDs will be for sale and the two presenters will be available to sign them during a post-show reception. Tickets are on sale online at spertus.edu and by phone at 312.322.1773.
Discount parking is available for $10 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.
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Spertus offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs—including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts—take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit spertus.edu.
This program is made possible with support from the Bernard and Rochelle Zell Center for Holocaust Studies at Spertus Institute. Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.