The Pianist of Willesden Lane – Post event review by Gary Lesniak & Betty Kendall

The Pianist of Willesden Lane

An extraordinary experience was shared by fourteen of our PCC Retiree Network members recently at Portland Center Stage, in the form of a stunning narrative, accompanied by music.

The Pianist of Willisden Lane is an exceptional human story of WWII survival and life force performed by the playwright, pianist and author herself, Mona Golabek.  She tells the true life story of her Austrian mother, Lisa Jura, who as a talented teen piano student in 1938 was saved from Nazi roundups of Austrian Jews by the Kindertransport, a program that transported Jewish children to the safety of group foster homes in wartime England.

Her mother eventually ran away from her first children’s home, an austere stressed situation in which piano practice was forbidden.  However, with the support of a new foster parent and her refugee peers at Willesden Lane, she found her way to London’s Royal Academy of Music which recognized her talents and arranged fine music teachers for her.  Eventually, Lisa became a professional concert pianist and teacher.

After the war she married Michael Golabeck, who had been a French Resistance fighter.  They had two daughters, Renee and Mona.

Daughter Mona herself became an exceptional concert pianist and accompanied her narration of mother’s tale with stirring classical pieces. It is no wonder that she is in her second year encore circuit with her one-woman presentation and that her book sales are in there 25th printing.

The Retiree Network, thanks to Lynn Mayer’s suggestion of this event and Jerry Donnelly’s work with Portland Center Stage was happy to secure the group discounted tickets for this experience.

Please watch our announcements for future Retiree Network group outings and come join us!

The Pianist of Willesden Lane

Photos courtesy of Portland Center Stage, copyright Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.tv

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