Willesden Lane a major hit for Berkeley Rep

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” which closed Jan. 5 after an extended run, was one of the biggest hits in Berkeley Repertory Theatre history. The one-woman show starring pianist Mona Golabek sold out all 52 performances of its scheduled run and all 29 performances of an extended run.

The play is based on Golabek’s book about her concert-pianist mother’s life growing up in Vienna, then fleeing Hitler on the famed Kindertransport to England.

The show, which opened in November, sold more than 32,000 tickets. There were no unsold seats in all that time.

“The show’s been terrifically successful,” said Berkeley Rep managing director Susan Medak. “It has had an appeal that crossed all sorts of communities. What people are moved by is the authenticity of Mona’s performance. Once they step into it, they experience it as beautiful storytelling by a daughter about her mother.”

Over the last  25 years, Berkeley Rep has staged more than 175 shows, but only 10 have drawn more than 30,000 patrons. Medak said “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” ranked in popularity with hit productions such as “Homebody/Kabul,” “Wishful Drinking,” “American Idiot” and “Chinglish.”