image003THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, starring internationally-acclaimed storyteller and pianist, Mona Golabek, which was recently extended due to popular demand through September 1, will host a special talk back discussion on Sunday, August 18following with 3 p.m. performance.  The talk back will feature a special guest appearance by Kindertransport survivor Ernst Heimann, member of the Speakers’ Bureau at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. 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 has received rave reviews and follows successful productions in Los Angeles and Boston.

Ernst Heimann was born in 1929 in Mainz, Germany (30 miles west of Frankfurt). During Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, his school and synagogue were destroyed. In the aftermath of these events, his parents knew that they had to get Ernie out of Germany. On February 1, 1939, Ernie was placed on the Kindertransport to England. His maternal aunt lived in England at the time and sponsored Ernie, arranging for him to live with an English Jewish family in Willesden, just outside of London. In September 1939, Ernie and others from his village were evacuated to the countryside because of the bombing in London. Ernie would remain in England for four years, until he came to the U.S. in 1943. Ernie regularly shares his story as part of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE tells 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 Kindertransport 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.

About 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.  Winner of 2007 Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Best Musical and Best Actor forGeorge Gershwin Alone. Worldwide live broadcasts, George Gershwin Alone, 2005 and 2011. Current projects include An American Story for Actor & Orchestra and Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in The Piano Show. 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.

About Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Likely the last international institution of its kind built with the active participation of Holocaust survivors, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is the largest facility in the Midwest dedicated to preserving the memories of those lost in the Holocaust and to teaching current generations to fight hatred, indifference and genocide in today’s world.

The Museum’s Karkomi Permanent Exhibition tells the story of the Jews and the many other minority groups who were persecuted in the Holocaust, with over 500 extraordinary artifacts, documents and photographs, including an original volume of the Nuremberg Trial transcripts and Kindertransport lists. An early 20th Century German rail car—of the type used by the Nazis during the Holocaust to transport millions to concentration camps and, ultimately, to their deaths—serves as the Museum’s central artifact.

Housed inside a 65,000 square-foot building, designed by renowned Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman, the Museum also features the Harvey L. Miller Family Youth Exhibition where children ages 8 to 12 can discover ways to respect differences, address bullying, and take a stand on issues that matter to them. The Museum’s Legacy of Absence gallery is home to a permanent collection of visual artwork by distinguished contemporary artists from around the world that reflect on historical violence, revealing the continued impact of genocide and atrocities. Its Brill Family Resource Center has library holdings that include 2,000 testimonies of Midwest Holocaust survivors as recorded by the Shoah Foundation.

Also available to visitors are stunning contemplative spaces which pay homage to the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and provide a forum for peaceful reflection.

In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Museum also hosts traveling exhibitions, educational programs and events – from book-signings, to student tours, to lectures – all of which aim to foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive in Skokie, is open Monday through Friday from10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings from 5:00- 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information, please call (847) 967-4800 or visit

The performance schedule for THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, now through Sunday, Sept. 1, is as follows: Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $49 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $54 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