This year the Laguna Playhouse decided to include two programs of Jewish significance. The first, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” was produced for the youth theater. The second will be performed in conjunction with Hershey Felder, One More Entertainment and Trevor Hay Production – “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” starring Mona Golobek.
Originally from a book entitled The Children of Willesden Lane written by Golabek, it tells the true story of her mother. The setting is Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitzkrieg. “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is about Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who dreams about her concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall. But with the issuing of new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream. Featuring some of the world’s most beloved piano music played live, Mona Golabek’s fervent hope is that the audiences will leave the theater “feeling deeply moved about survival and how through our darkest times, music has the power to help us continue to march on and hold onto our hopes for the future.”
She added, “I hope that the next time people hear one of the classic pieces I will be playing that they remember the story of Lisa Jura, see this time period in a different way and how her music inspired her to hold on and make it through World War II.”
Ann Wareham, artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse, explained that, “When I first saw Mona’s program, it was in its beginning stages. It started out as a workshop piece and has been re-imagined countless times before it became the extraordinary show it is today.”
“We are so excited and feel so fortunate to be able to have Mona and her show in this year’s lineup,” Wareham said. “When we start considering our lineup, we are always looking for the four very best stories we can find. This year we were so fortunate to find such amazing productions.”
This production was nominated for two LA Drama Critics Circle Awards in 2012, one for Mona Golobek’s solo performance during the five-month run at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Wareham knew that the Laguna Playhouse was very fortunate to snap it up early on.
One of the reasons the Laguna Playhouse wanted to do this particular program, according to Wareham, is “it is beautifully written and performed by someone who is telling a true event within her family. Golobek is also a first-class concert pianist! There are so many Holocaust stories, and they all need to be kept alive. It is our hope that everyone goes home with a sense of what these children went through, as well as the realization that if we forget, our history it will repeat itself.”
Speaking with Golobek, one is able to feel her passion on the subject of how much work has gone into making this one-woman show what it is today. “This is my mom’s story. She was lucky in that when she got on the train that hers went west to England, and the people there showed such generosity to help all the children who arrived. It is because of them that my mother survived and I am here to perform the music and the story. If she had been on the train that went east, this is a tale that would never be brought to light.”
Golobek added, “For me, this is a living; breathing entity. It has been constantly re-worked through the years to become what it is today. I hope everyone will think of the obstacles my mom lived through, and it was only because of her music that she was able to survive. Thanks to Hershey Felder and his direction, it has become a wonderful tribute to my mother and the times. I’m so incredibly excited to have the opportunity to perform in Orange County at the Laguna Playhouse. It is one of the most prestigious theaters in the country!”
Wareham knows that the audiences will love the show and hopes that families will attend. Golobek says that it’s a wonderful opportunity for children over 11 to learn about what it was like to live during such a horrific era and yet see that with courage and the inspiration of something as beautiful as music, life can flourish.
So inspired by her mother’s story, Golobek decided in 2003 to create the Hold On To Your Music Foundation to seek to expand awareness and understanding of the ethical implications of world events such as the Holocaust and the power of the arts, especially music, to embolden the human spirit in the face of adversity. For more information, log onto: holdontoyourmusic.org.
See the Show
$40 to $60
8pm, Tuesday through Saturday
2pm, Thursday, Saturday
Purchase tickets online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com,
or call the box office at
(949) 497-2787, ext. 1.