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THE CHICAGO PREMIERE OF Mona Golabek in THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE ADAPTED AND DIRECTED BY HERSHEY FELDER OFFICIALLY OPENS TONIGHT AT THE ROYAL GEORGE THEATRE
Eighty-Eight Entertainment follows its current presentation of Hershey Felder’s AN AMERICAN STORY, now through April 14th at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, with the Chicago Premiere of THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, starring internationally-acclaimed storyteller and pianist, Mona Golabek, in a limited engagement at The Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted Street . The production is adapted and directed by Hershey Felder and based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Golabek and Lee Cohen. The Chicago premiere follows successful productions in Los Angeles and Boston.
Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANEtells the true story of Mona Golabek’s mother, noted pianist and author Lisa Jura. A young Jewish pianist, Lisa dreams of a concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall. When Lisa is sent on the kinder transport to London to protect her from the Nazi regime, everything about her life is upended except her love of music and her pursuit of her dream. Golabek performs some of the world’s most beloved piano music in this poignant true story of her mother’s experience in wartime Europe. Adapted and directed by local favorite Hershey Felder, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is a riveting tale of hope that is a powerful testament to how music helps us survive through our darkest times.
“This beautiful tale told by Mona Golabek herself is performed in the style of musical storytelling that Chicago audiences have come to know from me,” said adapter/director Hershey Felder, creator and performer of audience favorites including George Gershwin Alone and Maestro: Leonard Bernstein. “Being able to work with her to present this piece has been an incredible joy both because her skill as a musician enables the evening to showcase some of the world’s most beautiful and enduring piano music ever composed, and also because no one else could tell this story the way she can.”
American concert pianist Mona Golabek has appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center and the Royal Festival Hall alongside major orchestras worldwide. A Grammy nominee, she has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Avery Fisher Prize, and has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries. Golabek is the creator and voice of The Romantic Hours, a syndicated radio program which combines classical music with readings of poetry, letters, and stories, and can be heard on 80 stations and XM Satellite Radio. Golabek and her family are founders of the non-profit Hold On To Your Music, which spreads the message of the power of the arts, especially music, to embolden the human spirit. In addition, Golabek and Lee Cohen are award-winning authors of The Children of Willesden Lane, the book upon which THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is based.
Hershey Felder (Adaptation/Director)
Broadway, London’s West End: George Gershwin Alone (Helen Hayes Theatre, Duchess Theatre). Regional and international appearances of “Composers Sonata” (1999-2013) – George Gershwin Alone, Monsieur Chopin, Beethoven, As I Knew Him, and Maestro: Leonard Bernstein – include Old Globe Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Geffen Playhouse, Laguna Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, American Repertory Theater, Hartford Stage, Ravinia Festival, Chicago’s Royal George Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Prince Music Theater, The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Uijeongbu Theater Festival (South Korea) and many others, as well as a command performance of Monsieur Chopin for the Polish Ambassador to the United States, Polish Embassy, Washington. Winner of 2007 Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Best Musical and Best Actor for George Gershwin Alone. Compositions include Aliyah, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Fairytale, a musical; Les Anges de Paris, Suite for Violin and Piano; Song Settings, poetry by Vachel Lindsay; Saltimbanques for Piano and Orchestra; Etudes Thematiques for Piano; An American Story for Actor and Orchestra. Recordings include Love Songs of the Yiddish Theatre, Back from Broadway, George Gershwin Alone and Monsieur Chopin for the WFMT Radio Network Recordings label; Beethoven, As I Knew Him and An American Story for the Eighty Eight Entertainment label. Worldwide live broadcasts, George Gershwin Alone, July 2005 and May 2011. Current projects include a new musical, An American Story, recorded with Chicago’s Ars Viva Symphony conducted by Alan Heatherington. Mr. Felder has been a Scholar in Residence at Harvard University’s Department of Music and is married to Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada.
The artistic team for THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is led by Director Hershey Felder with Associate Direction by Trevor Hay. Scenic Design is by David Buess and Trevor Hay , Sound Design is by Erik Carstensen, Lighting Design is by Chris Rynne, Projection Design is by Greg Sowizdrzal and Andrew Wilder, and Scenic Construction is by Christian Thorsen and David Buess. Erik Carstensen serves as Production Manager and the Production Stage Manager is Brett Taylor.
The performance schedule for THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE is Friday, April 19th through Sunday, May 12th. Performance times are: Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 2 p.m & 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $44 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $49 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are now on sale at The Royal George Theatre and may be purchased by calling 312.988.9000. Box office hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.