Posted in based on true events, holocaust survivors, Lisa Jura, Mona Golabek, pianist, solo show

In Loving Memory: "The Pianist Of Willesden Lane"

Mona Golabek stars in “The Pianist Of Willesden Lane,” adapted (from the book The Children of Willesden Lane) and directed by Hershey Felder, which launches the inaugural 5A Season at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

There are those memories which stir the heart and inspire. Mona Golabek shares some of hers with us in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” a lovely  tribute to her mother, playing at 59E59 Theaters through August 24th, Lisa Jura, who survived the ravages of WWII to achieve the success she dreamt of as a young girl in Vienna. 

Mona Golabek stars in “The Pianist Of Willesden Lane,” adapted (from the book The Children of Willesden Lane) and directed by Hershey Felder, which launches the inaugural 5A Season at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Like her mother, Mona Golabek is a musician with world-renown, whose memory play is accompanied by her performance at the piano.  “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is told in words and music, beginning with Lisa’s first encounter with the Nazis that make Vienna unsafe for her, and continuing to her concert debut in London some years later.

“I had always known they were there, but I hadn’t really seen them before– ugly men with rifles, armbands– they were everywhere…,” Lisa says. She is just fourteen and her parents are able to send her to England on the Kindertransport.

Lisa Jura finds her way in England, with the help of friends she makes along the way, and ends up at the London Royal Academy of Music.

Mona Golabek speaks mostly as Lisa Jura and narrates in other voices, as well as,  in telling Lisa’s story. Golabek deftly plays the piano pieces that weaves the backdrop to Lisa’s life.  “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is a charming, moving and inspiring tale, beautifully-wrought and elegantly presented, based on Mona Golabek’s memoir, written with Lee Cohen, and adapted for the stage by Hershey Felder, who also directs. The staging, with scenic design by Trevor Hay and Hershey Felder, is very affecting as well. The production originated at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse, and is the first play staged as part of 59E59’s new Series 5A.

To learn more about  “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” please visit  

Posted in festival of short plays, Summer Shorts

It’s that sweet time: Summer Shorts is here again

I love the short-form play. Like condensed milk, it’s made a little richer and sweeter for the concentration.

Its flavor is similar to but different from the original, of course, but  more potent and easier to whip into a frenzy of thoughts and ideas.

The challenge for the playwrights is, as always, to make their point fresh and cogent in a brief time. These are mini one acts!

The schedule for this year’s Summer Shorts is:

Series A– The Sky and the Limit by Roger Hedden, directed by Billy Hopkins

Much to the amusement of his best friend, a young man dives into one of America’s mesa strewn deserts in search of the perfect site for a wedding.
Riverbed by Eric Lane, directed by Matthew Rauch
A lyrical drama about a married couple that experiences an intense loss and their struggle to find their way back to each other.
Sec. 310, Row D, Seats 5 and 6 by Warren Leight, director TBA
Three guys share two season tickets as they watch the Knicks, and their lives, pass before their eyes.

Series B–Doubtless by Albert Innaurato, directed by Jack Hofsiss

With such formidable opponents as hypocrisy, government, hysteria, neurosis, family, religion and pop culture – can we ever really know and accept who we are?  Well, these two brave nuns are going to give it a go!   

The Mulberry Bush by Neil Labute, directed by Maria Mileaf
Two men meet up on a bench in the park. One of them is meant to be there. The other is not. What follows is a domestic thriller played out in the harsh sunlight of a weekday afternoon.

Napoleon in Exile by Daniel Reitz, directed by Paul Schnee 
Corey is 25, living at home, can’t hold a job, and is obsessed with Minecraft. His mother has other ideas for him.

Catch them at 59E59 Theaters now. And come back to this space for our commentary.