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 www.59e59.org.  






Posted in Diane Davis, Donald Marguiles, Florida retirement, holocaust survivors, Hubert Point-du Jour, Kathryn Grody, Mark Blum, Primary Stages

No escape in "The Model Apartment"

                                                       

Escape by definiion involves running away.

In Donald Marguiles’ “The Model Apartment,” two Holocaust survivors are fleeing the very present horror in their lives by retiring to
Florida.

Max (Mark Blum) and Lola (Kathryn Grody) move to their condo ahead of schedule. Since their apartment is not yet ready, they’re given the keys to “The Model Apartment.” 

There end all reasonable expectations of who and why.

In short order, Max and Lola’s daughter, Debby (Diane Davis) follows them from Brooklyn and terrorizes them.

Debby has absorbed all their Holocaust nightmares and memories in her idiot-savant brain.

Kathryn Gordy and Mark Blum in the Primary Stages production
of The Model Apartment © 2013 James Leynse.

Rounding out the cast is Hubert Point-du Jour, with a finessed portrayal of Debby’s dim-witted boyfriend.

Mark Blum’s Max stumbles through pain and denial while Kathryn Grody’s Lola suffers her anguish poignantly.  In a fine small ensemble, Diane Davis stands out as the cruelly mangled Debby.

 Diane Davis and Kathryn Grody in the Primary Stages
production
of The Model Apartment © 2013 James Leynse.

“The Model Apartment” turns out to be more of an “American Horror Story” than its frothy first act suggests. Lauren Halpern’s nicely detailed set exudes the false luxury that undermines Max and Lola’s journey as well. Under the guiding hand of director Evan Cabnet, the build and reveal in this fine new play are well-delivered.

For more information on “The Model Apartment,” please visit either 59e59.org or primarystages.org