After a successful, two-city world premiere this winter at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre and New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, Allan Knee's romantic drama, Syncopation, now finds itself in the Windy City. The "romance with dance" has come to the Apple Tree Theatre in Highland Park Sept. 13-Oct. 22, officially opening Sept. 18.
A two-person romantic drama set in 1911 Manhattan, Syncopation is the story of Henry (Ross Lehman) and Anna (Ann Noble Massey), unlikely lovers drawn to one another by dance. As they practice their skills together, the two fall in love. Knee is the author of The Man Who Was Peter Pan, Late Nite Comic, Second Avenue Rag and Shmulnik's Waltz. He's currently busy shaping the recently overhauled musical, Little Women, for a Broadway launch next season.
Syncopation had been on the fast track for an Off-Broadway mounting this past spring, but the theatre logjam scotched those plans, and there's been no word on a New York launch since.
As for the Apple Tree staging, directed by Mark Lococco, the Oct. 22 closing date won't exactly be the end; the company will remount the show at Arlington Heights' Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, Feb. 21-March 18, 2001, according to press materials from Jay Kelly Off Loop Marketing.
Lehman, who's appeared on Broadway in Epic Proportions and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, was recently appointed co-artistic director of Apple Tree. Massey, a founding member of Chicago's Seanachai Theatre Company, wrote the drama, And Neither Do I Have Wings to Fly. For tickets ($28-$32) and information on Syncopation at Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place in Highland Park, call (847) 432-8223.
As for the rest of the 2000-01 season, Apple Tree will stage the Roger Miller and William Hauptman musical, Big River (Nov. 21-Dec. 31, opening Nov. 26), directed by the company's artistic and executive director Eileen Boevers; David Lindsay-Abaire's dark comedy Fuddy Meers (Feb. 7-March 18, 2001, opening Feb. 11, 2001), seen Off-Broadway this past season; the Tony-winning M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang (April 18-May 27, 2001, opening April 15, 2001), directed by Peter Amster; and the Off-Off-Broadway hit, 2 1/2 Jews, starring Nate Davis and directed by Stevi Marks (June 20-July 29, 2001, opening June 24, 2001).
Founded in 1973, Apple Tree Theatre is run by artistic and executive director Eileen Boevers and specializes in "dramas, musicals, new works and classics that celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit..."
-- By Christine Ehren and David Lefkowitz