Penguin Rep Presents Syncopation Starting August 11


 Penguin Rep Theatre, the award-winning professional Equity theatre under the leadership of founding artistic director Joe Brancato and executive director Andrew M. Horn, presents Syncopation, a romantic comedy by Allan Knee, beginning Friday, August 11 in Stony Point, New York.

Winner of an American Critics Theater Award, Syncopation is by the author of the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, which was commissioned and originally presented by Penguin before being released as the film, and adapted into the Broadway musical, Finding Neverland.

Thomas Caruso, associate director of the Broadway musical Groundhog Day, returns to Penguin, where he previously staged Don't Talk to the Actors, Greetings! and Over the Tavern, to direct. Ryan Kasprzak (a Chita Rivera Award nominee for Bandstand) choreographs.

Set in 1911, when New York's Lower East Side teemed with poverty and possibility, Syncopation tells the story of an unlikely couple -- a middle-aged Jewish butcher and a young Italian garment worker – who take dance lessons in a sixth-floor walkup and dream of a better life.

The limited engagement of Syncopation runs through Sunday, September 3 at Penguin Rep Theatre in historic Stony Point (Rockland County), New York.Official opening is Sunday, August 13 at 2:00 p.m.

The cast includes: Lauren Annunziata (whose credits include gigs at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ensemble Studio Theater, Labyrinth Theater, and Joe’s Pub) and Josh Powell (who recently starred in the new musical The Fourth Messenger, as El Gallo in The Fantasticks at Pittsburgh Public Theater, and spinning Sinatra tunes in My Way at the Ivoryton Playhouse).

The production has scenic design by Michael Carnahan, costume design by Lux Haac, lighting design by Martin Vreeland, sound design by William Neal, with casting by Cindi Rush.

Performance days and times are: Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. There is also a special weekday matinee on Friday, August 11 at 2:00 p.m.

Penguin’s intimate, 108-seat theatre, which is located at 7 Crickettown Road, is converted from an 1880’s hay barn, and offers air-conditioning, wheelchair accessible entrance, rest rooms and seating, and plenty of free parking.

Tickets to Syncopation are priced at $44 (including facility fee and service charge). There is an early ordering discount of $35 for tickets purchased prior to July 2. Discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more and young people (30 and under).

On Sunday, August 13, the audience is invited to join the cast and crew for cake and coffee after the performance.

On Friday, August 18, there will be a discussion among the actors and audience following the show.

Before the 4:00 p.m. show on Saturday, August 19, there will be a complimentary tasting.

Penguin’s 40th anniversary season also includes Shistory Happens!, a new work written and performed by award-winning actor/comedian Robert Wuhl (Arli$$, Batman), which is described as a hysterical -- and historical -- follow-up to his HBO Comedy Specials Assume Position 101 and 201 (Saturday, September 23 at 8 p.m. at Rockland Community College’s Cultural Arts Theatre in Suffern, NY), and the world premiere of Frederick Stroppel’s Fall River, a new take on Lizzie Borden from the author of Small World (October 13 – November 5).

To order tickets or for further information, visit Penguin Rep’s website at or call 845-786-2873. 


LAUREN ANNUNZIATA (). Recent credits include: I Know What You Are at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Perry Street at Labyrinth Theater, Hotel California at the NY New Theater Festival, and First Immigrant at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Lauren has also performed as a lead vocalist at 54 Below and Joe’s Pub.

JOSH POWELL (Ty) joins Syncopation straight from the New York premiere of the new musical The Fourth Messenger. This season he’s also starred at Pittsburgh Public Theater as El Gallo in The Fantasticks and Ivoryton Playhouse spinning Sinatra tunes in My Way. He has performed at theatres all across the country including Goodspeed, Merry-Go-Round, The York, Cherry Lane, and 42nd Street Moon, where he has appeared in multiple productions of his most successful roles -- Billy Bigelow, Harold Hill, Juan Peron, and the Phantom of the Opera – and also starred in numerous non-musical productions including GaslightNoises Off, and The Miser. Josh has also toured internationally performing the works of Gian Carlo Menotti and domestically as Orsino in Twelfth Night

ALLAN KNEE (Author) has written for the stage and film. His play The Man Who Was Peter Pan was commissioned by Penguin Rep Theatre, released by Miramax Films as Finding Neverland in 2004, and also served as the basis for the Broadway music of the same title. His musical version of Little Women won a Richard Rodgers Musical Theater Award. Among his other works are Second Avenue Waltz and Santa Anita ‘42, both of which were produced by Penguin Rep, as well as Shmulnik’s Waltz (music by David Shire), The Minister’s Black Veil, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Sholem Alecheim Lives, which toured with Theodore Bikel. For PBS he wrote the four-part adaptation of The Scarlet Letter.

THOMAS CARUSO (Director) directed the Penguin productions: 10% of Molly Snyder, Over The Tavern, Around The World in 80 Days, Greetings, Shipwrecked, and Don’t Talk To The Actors.  Other directing credits include: the critically acclaimed musical Southern Comfort at The Public Theatre (Lucille Lortel Award nomination & Outer Critics Circle nomination: Best New Musical 2016), Brave New World, the musical by Bill Russell & John McDaniel at North Carolina Stage Company, and Dynamo: Seeing Is Believing at the Hammersmith Apollo in the West End of London and its subsequent UK and Australian Tours.  He won the Excellence in Directing award for his direction of the NYMF musical, Academia Nuts.  He currently serves as the Associate Director of the Broadway musical, Groundhog Day, and also directed the U.S. National Tour of Matilda.  Thomas has directed at Rattlestick, EST, NY Stage & Film, Barrington Stage, TheatreWorks, Williamstown, Bay Street, Cherry Lane, The Play Company, Studio Arena Theatre, New World Stages and 59E59. 

RYAN KASPRZAK (Choreographer) is currently performing on Broadway in Bandstand (Chita Rivera Award Nomination).  National Tours: Billy Elliot (Associate Resident Choreographer / Dance Captain), Fosse (Dance Captain).  TV: Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.  Choreography credits include Southern Comfort (Public Theater), NBC’s Smash (Asst. Choreographer), David Blaine’s Real or Magic, Brave New World: the Musical (NC Stage), Mary Poppins (NCT). 


Joe Brancato was a high school English and drama teacher in 1977 when he peered into an abandoned 1880’s hay barn in Stony Point, New York, and visualized his future: a theatre of his own.

40 years later, Penguin Rep – the theatre Brancato started with Francine Newman-McCarthy and runs with executive director Andrew M. Horn -- has grown from a summer theatre to become one of the Hudson Valley’s most influential nonprofit cultural institutions, reaching tens of thousands of theatergoers each year at its home, in New York City and beyond – with its work moving to Off Broadway and to stages across the country and around the world.

And this May when the Bronx-born Brancato began his fifth decade at Penguin, a not-for-profit professional Equity theatre, he is among the longest-serving founding artistic directors in the U.S. today!

Since its founding in 1977, Penguin has presented more than 150 productions – over 100 directed by Brancato himself -- for more than 400,000 people from the lower Hudson Valley and beyond. And Mr. Brancato has brought together accomplished professional actors – David Canary, Michael Cullen, Tim De Kay, Gregg Edelman, Michael Esper, Barbara Feldon, Tovah Feldshuh, Beth Fowler, Deborah Hedwall, Celeste Holm,, Richard Kline, Andrew McCarthy, Lizbeth Mackay, Michele Pawk,and Karen Ziemba, among others – to star in new and noteworthy plays by such playwrights as Lee Blessing, Ronald Harwood, Allan Knee, Arthur Laurents, Warren Leight, Jon Marans, William Mastrosimone, Lainie Robertson, James Sherman and Elizabeth Swados.

 As The Journal News wrote in 1982: “Somebody forgot to tell artistic director Joe Brancato that he’s crazy to use a little barn plunked down in the Rockland County suburbs to experiment with unusual and challenging plays… I hope everybody keeps forgetting to tell him. The region is more the richer for it.”

“Guided by the skilled hand of Penguin’s artistic director, Joe Brancato, the splendid performers get first-rate support, as always at Penguin, by an excellent design team” (The New York Times).

“Penguin Rep is a place where theatergoers can experience magic time after time” (

As it celebrates its fortieth season, Penguin Rep Theatre, dubbed “the gutsiest little theatre” by The New York Times, continues to present a cultural experience that is unique in the region: professional productions of new plays at affordable prices.

Penguin Rep Theatre’s 2017 season is sponsored by Active International and Orange and Rockland Utilities. The season is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Penguin Rep also gratefully acknowledges the support of the County of Rockland, the Town of Stony Point, The Shubert Foundation, Cory and Bob Donnalley Charitable Foundation and generous donations from Joseph Grosso, Barry and Helene Lewis, Chase Mishkin, Barrie Peterson and Morton Wolkowitz.