The Pianist of Willesden Lane
History is most powerful when we see the "all" through the small — the panorama of the textbook through the peephole of the personal. Acclaimed pianist Mona Golabek give us just that in sharing the story of her mother, Lisa Jura, a budding piano virtuoso in late 1930s Vienna. At age 14, just days after Kristallnacht, Jura has to leave her family as she is a beneficiary of the Kindertransport, a rescue mission that sent Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to live in England. Between stints at the nine-foot Steinway, Golabek embodies a host of characters with whom the young, exiled Jura comes in contact; rather than venturing into caricature or messing with accents, she keeps the shifts subtle, relying instead on crisp diction, tone of voice and posture to communicate character. Credit director Hershey Felder as well, a veteran of the genre who adapted the show from Golabek's book, The Children of Willesden Lane. The title of book and show refer to the foster home where Jura's musical talents were encouraged, leading to her acceptance at London's Royal Academy of Music. Her talents clearly were passed on to her daughter, as Golabek's keyboard technique is liquid silk, with a fluidity that's as powerful as it is nimble. She paints vibrant soundscapes that are enhanced by Christopher Rynne's haunting lighting and Greg Sowizdrzal's pinpoint-precise projections. But more importantly, she reminds us of the transformative power of art in even the darkest of times. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Wstwd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through June 24. (310) 208-5454, geffenplayhouse.com.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: April 25. Continues through Sept. 15, 2012
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