Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE at Hartford Stage

Review: THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE at Hartford Stage THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE - piano virtuoso Mona Golabek's beautiful retelling of the story of her mother's escape from Vienna as a young woman on the Kindertransport - has returned for a limited engagement through July 22 at Hartford Stage and the performance is once again enthralling, beautifully told (and played) and something not to be missed.

What is fascinating (and unique) about a play like THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, is that it is told by someone intimately connected to the story and in a way that takes the fascinating tale of survival and the power of music to a new level. Mona Golabek, who is herself a world-renowned pianist, takes the stage to portray her mother,Review: THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE at Hartford Stage Austrian born pianist Lisa Jura, and share the story of her mother's harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna on the Kindertransport. This program allowed for select Jewish children to travel to England where they would be cared for by families and individuals there during a short period of time at the beginning of the conflict that would escalate into WWII. Lisa's story centers on her intimate and passionate connection to the piano and to the music she can bring to life through it. Her mother, on the train platform as she is departing for London tells her to "hold on to the music" and that is exactly what she does. Her music is what keeps her grounded in a time of uncertainty and fear, and leads her to make choices that will shape the rest of her life. THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is a beautifully told story of determination, passion, and of the power of music to heal.

Based on the book "The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival" by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE was adapted and directed by Hershey Felder, who Hartford Stage audiences may recall from his most recent performance as Tchaikovsky in last year's OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY. The story works beautifully in the Hartford Stage space and transports the audience to the time and place of Lisa Jura's life. Mona Golabek is fantastic in the role as she recounts the many details of her mother's life and tackles portions of some of the great works for piano. Ms. Golabek shows off her amazing talents on the piano playing excerpts from Beethoven, Grieg, Mozart, Debussy, Scriabin, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and more. Her ability to keep the story moving while playing such complex pieces is just one of the things that make this show unique and special.

Review: THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE at Hartford Stage In presenting THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, Hartford Stage once again provides theater-goers with an opportunity to be transported by both story and music, and uplifted by a fascinating true-story of courage and love. The play is something that audience don't have the opportunity to experience often, and should take advantage of the limited run to witness this fascinating story and some brilliantly played music. And if you can, get a seat stage right where you can watch Ms. Golabek's hands as they fly through some of the great piano works of our time.

THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE runs as a Limited Engagement at Hartford Stage in Hartford, CT through Jule 22nd. Hartford Stage is located at 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT 06103. For more information call 860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.com

All Photos: Mona Golabek in THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE




From This Author - Joseph Harrison

Joseph Harrison has been involved with the theatre in some form or fashion all his life. He holds a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but his true love is the theatre which he has been... (read more about this author)


Review: THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL at Titusville Playhouse
August 14, 2022

Audiences in Titusville have their own chance to journey to Bikini Bottom and visit SpongeBob and friends in Titusville Playhouse’s 58th season opener – THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL – a visual feast of a show featuring an outstanding cast which delivers a fun, family-friendly, and highly entertaining night at the theatre.

Review: SWEENEY TODD by New Generation Theatrical
July 9, 2022

How do you take a brilliant piece of classic musical theatre and improve upon it? Orlando’s New Generation Theatrical's production of SWEENEY TODD, does this by breaking down the typical stage barriers and immersing the audience in the material, creating a fresh (and fantastic) production.

Review: SCHOOL OF ROCK at Theatre South Playhouse
June 23, 2022

What happens when you take a popular comedy film, add in new music by the king of musical theatre, and put it on stage with a talented cast? You get the Orlando premiere of SCHOOL OF ROCK presented by Theatre South Playhouse in Dr. Phillips - an energetic, entertaining, and eminently electric experience of epic proportions.

BWW Review: Florida Theatrical Association's BLOOD BROTHERS at The Abbey
June 12, 2022

“So, did you hear the story of the Johnstone twins? As like each other as two new pins. Of one womb born, on the self-same day, how one was kept and one given away?” These are the words spoken by the Narrator at the beginning of BLOOD BROTHERS, the long-running West End musical by Willy Russell which provides the perfect setup for the play that follows. BLOOD BROTHERS is not a show that gets produced that often, but that is likely exactly why the Florida Theatrical Association has opted to mount a production of the musical – to introduce it to new audiences and provide theatregoers the unique experience of seeing the show. I attended opening night and it was, in fact, the first time I have had the chance to see a live production even though I have been familiar with the piece due to its popularity in England and its not-as-successful run on Broadway in the early 1990’s. And though the piece itself has some challenges (more on that later) the FTA’s production is solid with outstanding and emotional performances by the cast and a creative vision true to the material

BWW Review: PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES at The Winter Park Playhouse
May 22, 2022

Somewhere on Highway 57 between Frog Level and Smyrna sits a little diner across from a service station where the pie is fresh, the beer is cold, and the gas is cheap (if that’s even possible these days). Such is the setting for the Off-Broadway hit musical PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES. And in its latest production of this feel-good musical, The Winter Park Playhouse delivers a toe-tapping, knee slapping good time.