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Westport Country Playhouse to Host Conversation with Holocaust Kindertransport Survivor

Westport Country Playhouse, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and TEAM Westport will partner to present "From Hate to Hope: A Conversation with Holocaust Kindertransport Survivor Ivan Backer," on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., in The Playhouse's White Barn Center, adjacent to the theater.

Free by reservation and open to the public, the event is presented in conjunction with The Playhouse's April production of the musical memoir, "The Pianist of Willesden Lane." To reserve a seat, call The Playhouse Box Office at (203) 227-4177.

Ivan Backer is the author of "My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy's Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism." Like the subject of "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," Backer was able to flee Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport, the "children's trains," organized by Sir Nicholas Winton who almost single-handedly rescued 669 children. Other Kindertransports from Europe were supported by British charities and moved thousands of children to safety in England.

Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, ADL senior associate director, will moderate the conversation. Funding for the event is provided by the Anita Shorr "Step in and Be a Hero" Fund.

In "The Pianist of Willesden Lane," a young Jewish girl escapes the Holocaust via Kindertransport. The unique piece, starring Grammy-nominated pianist and storyteller Mona Golabek, is the true story of Golabek's mother Lisa Jura. Lisa was a young piano prodigy dreaming about her concert debut in Vienna. With new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changed, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream. Golabek intertwines the true story of family, hope, and survival with piano selections by Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, and even a little Gershwin. The production is adapted and directed by Hershey Felder.

"The Pianist of Willesden Lane" will have a limited, seven-performance engagement at The Playhouse from Wednesday, April 5 through Sunday, April 9. Performances are on Wed., Apr. 5 at 2 and 8 p.m.; Thurs. and Fri., Apr. 6 and 7, at 8 p.m.; Sat., Apr. 8, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sun., Apr. 9, at 3 pm. Tickets are $35 and $45.

Media sponsors for "The Pianist of Willesden Lane" are the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and WSHU. Educational programming is made possible by Fiona Garland & Andrew Bentley.

For more information, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at Stay connected to The Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), or view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).

The mission of Westport Country Playhouse is to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater worth talking about and the welcoming experience of The Playhouse campus. The Playhouse creates this relationship with the community and provides this experience in multiple ways by offering: Live theater experiences of the highest quality, under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos, from May through November; educational and community engagement events and opportunities to further explore issues presented by the work on stage; special performances and programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand play readings throughout the year to deepen relationships with audiences and artists alike; the renowned Woodward Internship Program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family Festivities presentations from November through April to delight young and old alike and to promote reading through live theater; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open for enjoyment and community events year-round. The value of the Westport Country Playhouse to all it touches is immeasurable.

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