In this moving play, Grammy-nominated pianist Mona Golabek passionately interweaves the music of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy as she shares her mother's riveting story of tragic loss, survival and a new life. The Pianist of Willesden Lane is based on the true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician who in 1938, at the age of 14, had to leave her family in Vienna and flee to London via the Kindertransport, a rescue movement for children threatened by the Nazi regime. Based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, and directed by Hershey Felder, this theatrical performance is an expression of hope and a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. The book is available in adaptations for all ages and we recommend reading it as a companion project.
Recommended Grades: 3-12
Length: 90 minutes (option to view in multiple sittings)
Connections: language, storytelling, biography, history, the Holocaust, bravery, resilience, community, theatrical performance, classical music, war, refugees
“Keyboard virtuoso Mona Golabek essentially channels her mother, pianist Lisa Jura, and strikes musical and emotional notes that transcend technical display or biographical sentiment. This elegant, heartfelt solo show is an arresting, deeply affecting triumph.”
-David Nichols, LA Times
This performance allowed my students to see that through great adversity, you can still become who you want to be with perseverance. I was struck by how engaged they were with a subject matter that they have limited knowledge of and still found a way to connect. The balance of music, acting, and cinema effects was perfect. I love that you added the slides so that I could prepare my kids for the performance. The background information made it more interesting for them.
-Cynthia Kiernan, 3rd Grade Teacher, John F. Kennedy Elementary School
The Children of Willesden Lane was and has been a great addition to the Holocaust education at PDCMS. Lisa's story is so endearing for our students, and the fact that is told by her daughter is even that more moving. Students understand and show empathy to Lisa and all of the other children that suffered and/or perished during the Holocaust.
-Nan Kirchhevel, 8th Grade Teacher, Palm Desert Charter Middle School
We were able to explore the dynamics of the experience of the pianist's mother through music and emotional storytelling. As a teacher, I found the material very relevant and it fits with our RAVEN goals, with E being Empathy. I used this as a character lesson.
-Jolie K. Kelley, 11th/12th Grade Teacher, Black Rock High School