Playhouse “Pianist” Teaches Children About Holocaust Horrors

You can’t say the Westport Country Playhouse isn’t timely.

The most recent production — “Thousand Pines” — was a provocative look at gun violence, through its effect on 3 families.

Now comes “The Pianist of  Willesden Lane.” It’s an encore performance, thanks to raves before.

The pianist — Grammy-nominated Mona Golabek — tells the gripping, true tale of her mother. A piano prodigy herself, whose dreams were threatened in 1938 by looming war, she flees Vienna for England on the Kindertransport.

Golabek describes it all, while interweaving music of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, even a bit of Gershwin.

The elegant, beautiful show is also crucially important. It comes at a time of rising anti-Semitism worldwide, and just weeks after the murder of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” should be seen by audiences of all ages. But on Sunday, December 16, the Playhouse will be filled with young people.

The 3 p.m. production will be followed by age-appropriate group discussions led by local Holocaust survivors. The goal is to educate children about that horrible time in a sensitive way, stressing the importance of standing up to bigotry and hatred, with the power of hope.

Monique Lions Greenspan’s mother survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She knows first hand the incredible strength, optimism and gratefulness that Holocaust survivors possess.

“Their stories provide invaluable lessons,” she says. “I feel a deep sense of obligation to make our community aware of this opportunity for our children — and adults too — to bear witness to and learn from their experiences.”

(The recommended age for this show is 10 and older. Click here for tickets and more information on the December 16 performance. Click here for tickets and more information on the December 5-22 run. The program is sponsored by Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, Jewish Federation Association for Connecticut, Holocaust Child Survivors of CT and the Anti-Defamation League Connecticut.)

4 responses to “Playhouse “Pianist” Teaches Children About Holocaust Horrors

  1. Dan, Thanks so much for this lovely article about our special family program. Should anyone have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me, With appreciation for all that you do for our community.

  2. Hi Nicole. Thanks for your comment and offer. Please feel free to contact me,

  3. We saw this at the prior WCP production. It’s a remarkable show that incorporates the music beautifully in the telling of a poignant and important story.

  4. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    Judi and I saw “Pianist” when the show toured Portland, Oregon. Pay special attention to the projections behind the pianist as she plays.
    Shifting gears: For those of us who still read books, printed in ink on paper, I recommend “All This by Chance” by Vincent O’Sullivan. It may be difficult to obtain in the U.S., as it was brought out by Victoria University of Wellington, (New Zealand). ISBN: 9781776561797.
    I’m not through the story but it covers the life of Stephen, Jewish, who has survived the Holocaust. Post-war he is living and working in a pharmacy in a British City. By and by he meets Eva; they fall in love, and marry. They go on “holiday” (vacation trip) to Poland. It is only then that Eva, too, discovers that she is a Jew who survived, via the Kindertransport. Adopted in England and renamed Eva, she was never told her birth name, or that she was Jewish, and that one other from her birth family has survived.
    By the way, a blessed Hannukah, y’all!