Westport Country Playhouse Announces Encore Engagement of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane”

Westport Country Playhouse will present the acclaimed musical memoir, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” from December 5 through December 22.The production returns to the Playhouse by popular demand after a sold-out run in April 2017.

Starring Grammy-nominated pianist and storyteller Mona Golabek, the unique piece is about Golabek’s mother, who, as a young Jewish girl, was sent from Nazi-threatened Vienna to London, holding on to her music to stay alive. Golabek intertwines the true story of family, hope, and survival with piano selections by Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, and even a little Gershwin.

“We are honored to bring back this internationally acclaimed artist in her mesmerizing and stunning theatrical event that has been a great success and riveted audiences, not only last year in Westport, but also in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Chicago, New York, and London,” said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. “It is a tale told deep from the heart about the power of music to heal and sustain the soul.”

Based on the book “The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival” by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, and adapted and directed by Hershey Felder, the play is set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg. Fourteen-year-old Lisa Jura spends her time practicing piano, dreaming of becoming a concert pianist.  But with Hitler’s armies advancing into Vienna, her parents obtain passage for her on the Kindertransport, forcing Lisa to leave her family behind and put her future on hold.  Lisa’s daughter, Mona Golabek, shares her mother’s gripping tale of escape and the people she met on her journey.

The family-friendly show is appropriate for children age 10 and up. 

American concert pianist Mona Golabek has appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, and Royal Festival Hall. She is a Grammy nominee who has been the subject of several documentaries, including “Concerto for Mona” with conductor Zubin Mehta. Her recordings include “Carnival of the Animals” and Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” featuring Meryl Streep, both recorded with Golabek’s sister, Renee Golabek-Kaye. Both daughters were taught by their mother Lisa Jura, who is the subject of Golabek’s acclaimed book, “The Children of Willesden Lane.”  Golabek’s father Michele Golabek received the Croix de Guerre for his role in the French Resistance.

Golabek founded Hold On To Your Music, a foundation devoted to spreading the message of the power of music. With the help of the Milken Family Foundation, Facing History and Ourselves, and the Annenberg Foundation, Golabek created educational resources which, with her book, have been adopted into school curricula across America. Additional educational partnerships have been formed with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Mashplant and the USC Shoah Foundation — all helping to bring forth the story of Lisa Jura.

Director and adaptor Hershey Felder created and performed “George Gershwin Alone,” which played on Broadway, in the West End, and in theaters around the country. His Composers Sonata — “George Gershwin Alone”; “Monsieur Chopin”; “Beethoven, As I Knew Him”; “Maestro Bernstein”; “Hershey Felder as Franz Liszt in Musik”; and “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” — has been presented at dozens of theaters across the U.S. and around the world. He created Eighty-Eight Entertainment in 2001; its newest division, Hershey Felder Presents, continues in the creation of new works of musical theater.  Next year Westport Country Playhouse will present “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin,” from July 16 – August 3, as part of the Playhouse’s 2019 Season.

Tickets start at $30; ticket for students/educators are $20.  The performance schedule is Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. 

Free-of-charge events surrounding the production include a documentary film screening of “Finding Leah Tickotsky: A Discovery of Heritage in Poland,” on Monday, December 10, at 7 p.m.; and an age-appropriate group discussion with community Holocaust survivors, hosted by the ADL and Federation for Jewish Philanthropy, on Saturday, December 16, following the 3 p.m. matinee performance.  Both events will take place in the Lucille Lortel White Barn Center. 

Education Partners for this production are Judy and Scott Phares.

For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), or view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse).

The mission of Westport Country Playhouse is to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater worth talking about and the welcoming experience of the Playhouse campus.  The not-for-profit Playhouse provides this experience in multiple ways by offering live theater experiences of the highest quality, under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos; educational and community engagement events to further explore the work on stage; the New Works Circle Initiative, a program dedicated to the discovery, development, and production of new live theatrical works; special performances and programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand play readings to deepen relationships with audiences and artists; the renowned Woodward Internship Program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family Festivities presentations to delight young and old alike and to promote reading through live theater; youth performance training through Broadway Method Academy, WCP’s resident conservatory program; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open for enjoyment and community events year-round.

Live Fiddle Contest to benefit the American Museum of Tort Law

Get ready for some feet tapping fun to benefit the American Museum of Tort Law when the distinguished museum, Adnaan Stumo performs at the museum on December 14 at 7 pm. This will be Adnaan Stumo’s only performance.

Adnaan Stumo is a musician who travels extensively and fuses traditional music from all over the world with modern pop and rock. He uses a loop station to repeat live recordings of his instrument and voice and builds these loops into arrangements both familiar and fresh.

Tickets are $15 for this special fundraiser for the Museum are available on our website at http://www.tortmuseum.org

Seating is limited. RSVP to 860-379-0505 or email joan@tortmuseum.org. The American Museum of Tort Law is located on 654 Main Street in Winsted Connecticut in the Litchfield Hills.

A Magical Christmas Eve Exhibit at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum kicks off the Holiday Season the day after Thanksgiving with a new exhibition entitled, A Magical Christmas Eve at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, which will open at noon on Friday, November 23, 2018, at 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT. This exhibition runs through January 6, 2019.

During Queen Victoria’s reign, Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree in England, a tradition that became very popular in the U.S. in the 1850s. For the past 30 years, visitors from all across the region have come to the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum to learn about this holiday tradition and immerse in its splendor and beauty.

The story of the day before Christmas at the Mansion will start with an overview of this holiday celebration, decade by decade, from the 1850s to the 1930s. The Dining Room will display a Christmas Eve feast, and throughout the Museum, displays of tabletop as well as tall, lavishly decorated trees will welcome visitors to one of the most cherished holiday destinations in New England.

During Queen Victoria’s reign, Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree in England, a tradition that became very popular in the U.S. in the 1850s. For the past 30 years, visitors from all across the region have come to the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum to learn about this holiday tradition and immerse in its splendor and beauty. The story of the day before Christmas at the Mansion will start with an overview of this holiday celebration, decade by decade, from the 1850s to the 1930s. The Dining Room will display a Christmas Eve feast, and throughout the Museum, displays of tabletop as well as tall, lavishly decorated trees will welcome visitors to one of the most cherished holiday destinations in New England.

By the 1870s however, the tree grew larger and taller, store-bought glass decorations embellished the branches, and on Christmas Eve gifts were placed under the beautifully adorned trees.

The exhibit, A Magical Christmas Eve at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, curated by Trustee Mimi Findlay and the LMMM Curatorial Committee will capture the enchantment and excitement of the night before Christmas and explore Christmas Eve as it was celebrated by the Lockwood and the Mathews families. The Mansion will also feature 21st century holiday decorations with magnificent trees and seasonal displays by Trustee and renowned interior designer Victoria Vandamm of Vandamm Interiors, Marcia Taylor-Reid of Taylor Reid Design and Danna DiElsi owner of The Silk Touch, who will adorn the Herter Brothers’ grand Victorian staircase with white poinsettias and shimmering gold and silver garlands.

The Museum’s 2018 cultural and educational programs are made possible in part by generous funding from LMMM’s Founding Patrons: The Estate of Mrs. Cynthia Clark Brown, LMMM’s 2018 Season Distinguished Benefactors: The City of Norwalk and The Maurice Goodman Foundation; 2018 Distinguished Benefactors for Education: Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation Inc.

Tour hours: Wed.-Sun., noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. General Admission: $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children and young adults, ages 8-18. The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is a National Historic Landmark. For more information on schedules and programs please visit http://www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com, e-mail info@lockwoodmathewsmansion.com, or call 203-838-9799.

Holiday Gifts for the Nature Lover @ CT Audubon Society

The shelves of the Connecticut Audubon Society located on 2325 Burr Street in Fairfield are stocked with festive nature and bird-themed items perfect for gift giving. Below is a sampling of what’s “in store” for you, but be sure to stop by as items are added daily.

The Center at Fairfield’s Nature Store offers the ability to shop locally and support the Connecticut Audubon Society’s conservation and environmental education programs. And don’t forget, Connecticut Audubon Society Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases!

There are beautiful winter owl cards featuring distinctive gold foiling on the front. We also have a wide selection of holiday gift tags, notepads, and individual greeting cards.  Suet is an excellent choice to offer your feathered visitors this winter. This attractive feeder features a recycled plastic roof to protect the suet from the elements and a coated steel cable is provided for easy hanging. The coated wire mesh cage holds one suet cake.

The Audubon Birds in the Garden calendar is back for 2019, combining two beloved and seamlessly linked passions: gardening and bird watching. Also included are seasonal tips such as growing bird-friendly plants and nurturing migratory birds. A gift to enjoy all year long! 

This wild bird feeder has the technology to thwart unintended guests. When a squirrel climbs onto the feeder, its weight automatically closes the holes, saving the seeds for your feathered friends.

The Nature Store has feeders to suit all your needs. Be sure to them online for more ideas. Other unique ways to give include Ambassador Bird sponsorships, gift certificates for summer camp programs and membership to the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Nature Store Hours: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Saturday (203-259-6305 ext. 109).

Middlebury Gingerbread Festival through December 12

Walking in a Winter Wonderland! What a way to start December with the joyous sounds of holiday music, the scents of holiday treats and the delicious taste of gingerbread. The theme of this year’s 51stAnnual Gingerbread Village and Christmas Bazaar is “Winter Wonderland”.

All are welcomed to come and share this festive weeklong event with the parishioners of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Middlebury CT.

For over five decades now St. George’s parish has graciously welcomed the community to visit their magical village of gingerbread creations. As summer winds down and autumn approaches, visions of gingerbread and the sweet smells of cinnamon and spice fill the church halls. Parishioners, both young and old are often heard collaborating and sharing ideas about candy, construction and design choice.

Each piece displayed in the village is handcrafted and completely edible. Houses are often built from not just gingerbread, but pasta, beans, gum and breakfast cereal. In addition to houses, visitors will likely see sleigh riders, snowman, reindeer and perhaps even Santa. All items are on sale and will be available for pick up on the final day.

This mission is held near and dear to the heart of St. George’s. It has become part of a local holiday tradition for many, and we cordially welcome all visitors to come enjoy our truly unique display.

In addition to the village, the bazaar offers a bake shoppe, the opportunity to decorate your own cookie, raffle baskets and Christmas crafts for sale. Gingerbread kit houses will also be for sales which provide everything needed to create your own masterpiece at home.

Lunch will be available Saturday December 8th from 11:00am to 2:30pm. All you can eat breakfast on December 8th from 8:30-11am.

Village hours are Saturday December 1 – 10 am to 7pm, Sunday Dec 2 -12 noon to 7pm. Monday through Friday 2:00 pm-4:00pm, 6pm-8pm. Saturday, December 80th- 10am-4pm. As always, parking and admission are free (donations welcomed). The church is handicap accessible.

For more information, please visit http://www.gingerbreadvillagect.com. For general questions please contact the church at 203-758-9864 or email stgeorges9864@att.net. Group appointments can be scheduled by calling 203-217-4246.

December Holiday Shows @ Warner Theatre

The Warner Theatre in Torrington is presenting several special holiday performances in the month of December that is sure to delight young and old alike.

A holiday favorite, A Charlie Brown Christmas will be presented from December 8-16 in the Studio Theatre. Tickets are $12! The Warner Stage Company will present the family favorite and will hold a holiday sing-a-long and host a “Meet and Greet and Color” in the lobby following each performance. The Warner Stage Company production is directed and choreographed by Meredith Porri with music direction by T.J. Thompson. The cast features (alphabetically) Caitlin Beaudry, Nick Bourne, Abbey Elias, Malie Grasmere, Jennifer Langrock, Eric Lindblom, Lyn Nagle, Dan Porri, Steffon Sampson, Jeffrey Schoonmaker, Sarah Skrip. Performances are Saturday, December 8 and 15 at 1 & 4 pm, and Sunday, December 9 and 16 at 1 & 4 pm.

It would not be the holiday season without the timeless joy of The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory’s full-length version of the classic tale on our Main Stage! All dance roles will feature trainees of The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, along with cameo roles performed by children from the Torrington School of Ballet. Performances are Saturday, December 15 at 2 & 7 pm and Sunday, December 16 at 2 pm.

To round out the month of December, on the 29th the Warner is presenting the All Star Commedy Show at 8 pm in the Studio Theatre. Tickets are $25! We are excited to host an evening of comedy* with Blue Boy Entertainment’s All-Star Comedy Show starring KAREEM BLUE, LINDA BELT, DARREN RIVERA and PEACHES RODRIGUEZ.Kareem Blue is a former boxer turned comedian; an entertainer, actor, and producer of his own comedy shows; and owner and operator of Blue Boy Entertainment. Kareem was runner-up in New England’s Funniest Comic at Mohegan Sun. Linda Belt is a New Jersey native (a comedy routine in itself). Her humor touches on the absurdities of modern life and explores marriage, sex, parenting, and social mores, in other words: any subject she feels like discussing! Darren Rivera “The RicenBean Joker” was born in the Bronx, raised in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and started his career in New England – giving him and his observations a twist to everyday life. Darren is a runner-up at Last Comix Standing at Mohegan Sun. Peaches Rodriguez is a nationally touring comic and regularly performs in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. She has opened for Arsenio Hall, shared the stage with Jerry Seinfeld and very recently danced in a video for Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour!
For tickets and more information visit the website.