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 chronicle, memoir, one man show, Shakespeare, solo show

"In Acting Shakespeare"– Tales From A Life

James Da Vita in a photo by Jacob J. Goldberg from “In Acting Shakespeare.”

For those of us smitten with it, the theater is an uplifting and enriching experience.

James Da Vita’s ” In Acting Shakespeare,” at The Pearl Theatre through February 3rd, stands on the shoulders of Sir Ian McKellan, on whose one man show his own is based, and Shakespeare, whose body of work inspired Da Vita to “a life in the theater.”*

“And that , I think,” Da Vita says, “was Shakespeare’s true gift. He wrote us. He includes all of us in the question of what it is to be human.” 
Da Vita, an undeniably smart man, wisely opens with Shakespeare’s great villain Richard III. Contorting his boy into the deformed figure of the would-be King, Da Vita recites his honeyed and poisonous lines with a clarity and deep understanding. James Da Vita knows his Shakespeare!

James Da Vita in “In Acting Sharkespeare” in a photo by Jacob J. Goldberg.

In fact, the excerpts he plays out from the Bard’s work, are the most entertaining sections of his memoire in tribute to his profession.Da Vita is a savvy theatrical technician.

Photo by Jacob J. Goldberg


Once a fisherman, the handsome and charismatic Da Vita went from gutting fish to hoisting petards. and writing plays and novels. He is now also the literary manager, and a core member, of American Players Theater in Wisconsin.

Shakespeare’s legacy is of course undeniable and it apparently includes James Da Vita. His stage is  peopled with characters from Hotspur to Polonius, John Shakespeare and young Will himself. “In Acting Shakespeare” is about Da Vita’s journey from unschooled Long Island boy to actor.

*“In Acting Shakespeare” borrows nothing from David Mamet.

To find out more about The Pearl Theatre Company, and “In Acting Shakespeare,” please visit Next up at The Pearl, “Henry IV, Part I.”

Posted in absurdist, biology, Evolution, gaming, music, serious clowning, solo show, three-hander, You are in an open field

Geeks to Whales: Can Devolution Be Progress?

Evolutionary biology has somehow become controversial.

Sets and video design by Jim Findlay. Patricia Buckley as Minnie, one of the characters she portrays in “Evolution.” Photo © Russ Rowland

Darwinism battles creationism in “Evolution” at 59E59 Theaters through May 20th.

Minnie is overmedicated and living with her mother. Minnie was the bright sister, but it’s Pammy whose career as an evolutionary biologist has made her the family star in “Evolution.”

All three women, and Minnie’s nurse Sherry, are intelligently played by Patricia Buckley, who is also the author of this funny and poignant new play.

Patricia Buckley is Pammy, an evolutionary biologist, one of the characters she portrays in “Evolution.” Photo © Russ Rowland

Sea mammals, as Pammy drolly lectures, can only be explained as land animals regressing back into the ocean. Minnie, whose name teases the word minnow, seems to be drawn to water. She may be a victim of devolution and the sea.

Jim Findlay’s sets and video designs for “Evolution.” project dynamic marine scenes, enhancing the production.

Meanwhile, downtown on Here’s stage, the New York Neo-Futurists present “You Are In An Open Field” on Thursdays -Saturdays through May 19th.

Steven A. French and Cherylynn Tsushima. Photo © Anton Nickel

Marta (Marta Rainer) in “You Are In An Open Field” has a similar compulsion to Minne in “Evolution” for breathing under water. Marta is one of the geeks riffing on game theory in this musical slash video game entertainment.

“You Are In An Open Field” is written and performed by Kevin R. Free (Kevin), Marta Rainer and Adam Smith (Adam) and Eevin Hartsough. Rounding out the cast are Steven A. French (Actor) and Cherylynn Tsushima (Dancer) who add to the air of absurdity and whimsy. Music is created by the Neo-Futurists’ frequent collaborator Carl Riehl who leads a live hip hop band. Christopher Dippel directs this off-beat and amusing theatrical event.

To download tracks from the New York Neo-Futurists new musical “You Are In An Open Field” go to SoundCloud. Two songs, “I’m The Boss” and “Do It,” are available on SoundCloud at the direct link

Visit for a schedule for “Evolution.”

To find out more about “You Are In An Open Field”, visit