The Pianist of Willesden Lane (San Diego REP)

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Where did San Diego REP find an actress who plays the piano brilliantly? Mona Golabek is amazing, and her one-woman play, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, is filled with gratitude, honor, and passion. It’s storytelling at its best as Golabek narrates part of her Jewish heritage with a grand piano in a supporting role.

The piano sits center stage with a gleam of light hitting its open lid, simply waiting to be played. The large gold picture frames that surround it soon hold projected images of film and photos. From family portraits, to bookshelves, to a train station, to footage of WWII.

Golabek plays the role of her mother, Lisa Jura, and creatively uses her voice to characterize those who were part of her mother’s upbringing. Each classical composition played is fine tuned to represent Jura’s growth and love of music. When not seated on the piano bench, Golabek moves across the stage revealing her mother’s escape on the Kindertransport, a train that transported Jewish children out of Nazi territory. Her journey ends at a hostel in London on Willesden Lane, where long lasting friendships are made and the dream of becoming a pianist is fulfilled.

The Pianist of Willesden Lane is based on the book, The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. Adapted and directed by Hershey Felder.

Mona-Golabek

Theatre Geek and Mona Golabek.