Westport Country Playhouse, ADL, and TEAM Westport Partner for a Conversation with Holocaust Kindertransport Survivor

Westport Country Playhouse, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and TEAM Westport will partner to present “From Hate to Hope: A Conversation with Holocaust Kindertransport Survivor Ivan Backer,” on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., in the Playhouse’s White Barn Center, adjacent to the theater.   


Free by reservation and open to the public, the event is presented in conjunction with the Playhouse’s April production of the musical memoir, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.”  To reserve a seat, please call the Playhouse Box Office at (203) 227-4177.


Ivan Backer is the author of “My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy’s Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism.”  Like the subject of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” Backer was able to flee Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport, the “children’s trains,” organized by Sir Nicholas Winton who almost single-handedly rescued 669 children.  Other Kindertransports from Europe were supported by British charities and moved thousands of children to safety in England. 

Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, ADL senior associate director, will moderate the conversation. Funding for the event is provided by the Anita Shorr “Step in and Be a Hero” Fund. 

In “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” a young Jewish girl escapes the Holocaust via Kindertransport.  The unique piece, starring Grammy-nominated pianist and storyteller Mona Golabek, is the true story of Golabek’s mother Lisa Jura. Lisa was a young piano prodigy dreaming about her concert debut in Vienna. With new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changed, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream.  Golabek intertwines the true story of family, hope, and survival with piano selections by Grieg, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Bach, and even a little Gershwin.  The production is adapted and directed by Hershey Felder.

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” will have a limited, seven-performance engagement at the Playhouse from Wednesday, April 5 through Sunday, April 9.  Performances are on Wed., Apr. 5 at 2 and 8 p.m.; Thurs. and Fri., Apr. 6 and 7, at 8 p.m.; Sat., Apr. 8, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sun., Apr. 9, at 3 pm.  Tickets are $35 and $45.

Media sponsors for “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” are the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and WSHU.   Educational programming is made possible by Fiona Garland & Andrew Bentley.

For more information, 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).


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