Review Roundup: THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley - What Did the Critics Think?
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents the internationally-acclaimed The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Starring celebrated pianist Mona Golabek, this triumphant tour de force recounts the inspiring true story of Golabek's mother, Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician.
Created and directed by TheatreWorks favorite Hershey Felder, this musical journey follows Jura's escape from Nazi-occupied Austria via the Kindertransport, and her life at a children's home on Willesden Lane in London, where she later survived the London Blitz. Combining vivid storytelling and masterful performances of classics by Bach, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, The Pianist of Willesden Lane is a one-woman show that illustrates how music can bring light and hope to even the darkest of times.
The Pianist of Willesden Lane will be presented January 15 - February 16, 2020 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St. Mountain View, CA 94041. For tickets ($30-$100) and more information the public may visit TheatreWorks.org or call (650) 463-1960.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Sam Hurwitt, Mercury News: Likewise, all of Lisa's comings and goings seem to center around music. She's playing piano when she's told she's the one of three sisters who'll be sent to escape on the Kindertransport. Almost every temporary home lost or won happens while (or because) Lisa is playing piano. There's almost a folk tale quality to that narrative structure, but the emotional resonance of the story and the spellbinding quality of Golabek's piano playing makes it easy to believe how deeply music changes lives, and even saves them.
David John Chavez, Bay Area Plays: It's the painful sadness that the audience is given to process, while the irony and contrast of beautiful music reflects those images - children who sit on a curb hoping no one will notice, an old man who dusts himself off as he struggles to peel himself from the pavement with the cane that helps him up his only friend, and the sad, wandering woman. She holds a baby and walks in one direction, but abruptly stops and turns around. It is obvious that the parallels which exist between the wandering woman and young Lisa have everything to do with the fact that they both have nowhere to go. And while the wandering woman eventually drops out of our view, Lisa stays with us as she attempts to awaken the souls around her, playing any stray piano within a few feet of her.
Camille Bounds, Morgan Hill Life: We are invited to hear, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Bach, Greg, Rachmaninoff at their best and a feeling of fulfillment of having been exposed to such a well done presentation is hard to explain you have to have been there. The set design by Fielder and Trevor Hay is unique within itself made up of gilt framed portraits where wartime images and pieces of Jura's story are projected. For one of the finest presentation that TheatreWorks has presented "The Pianist of Willesden Lane" should not be missed.
Eddie Reynolds, Talkin' Broadway: The vision and execution of Hershey Felder's incredibly unique manner of storytelling comes to fruition through the combined genius of his own and Trevor Hay's scenic design, Andrew Wilder and Greg Sowizdrzal's projection design, Erik Carstensen's sound design, and Jason Bieber's lighting design. The result is a visual and auditory backdrop that allows the meticulously detailed memories of a brave girl and gifted musician to be related by her loving, proud, and equally talented daughter.