Go See It: The Pianist of Willesden Lane

I have said this before, but I think I’m the only person who enters contests on the CPBN.org site. I can’t come up with any other explanation for why I keep winning tickets from our local public broadcasters. Most recently I won tickets to see The Pianist of Willesden Lane at Hartford Stage. Before I go any further, I need to urge you to go see this show. You have until April 26. Please don’t miss it.

I took my cousin along for the ride, and we showed up knowing nothing about The Pianist of Willesden Lane. We were just happy to have free tickets to anything. There was a piano on stage, with a few “frames” hanging in the air above it. Was this just going to be a piano recital? And what did the piano have to do with all the information about the kindertransport that was in our program?

The Pianist of Willesden Lane is the story of Lisa Jura–who escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna on the kindertransport–as told by her daughter, Mona Golabek. Jura passed down her literally life-saving love of the piano to her daughter, and it shows. It is a wonderful one-woman show that combines beautiful music, family history, and multi-media. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t tell you too much about Jura’s story without giving away the plot at the heart of this, but it’s a sort of “the  truth is stranger than fiction” story, if “stranger” actually means “more beautiful and moving”.

I don’t have as many nice things to say about the young girl who was sitting behind me and couldn’t stop fidgeting and complaining. I can only hope that the man who brought her had a very compelling reason for subjecting us all to her bad behavior, instead of leaving her at home. So, if you’re buying tickets to this wonderful show, please determine whether or not your children are capable of sitting still for two hours of piano and spoken-word performance before dragging them along.