Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Ed Smith

Marin Theatre continues to dance to a musical theme with their current production of Syncopation. Written by New York playwright Allan Knee, this two character romance is set in New York’s lower East Side in 1912. Henry Ribolow (Charles Shaw Robinson) is a 42-year-old Jewish meat packer who takes out this ad in the paper: “WANTED Dance Partner Searching for a woman with a desire to be a ballroom dancer. To meet one night a week for practice, eventual success, and to one day dance for royalty. If these are your dreams and longings too, please join me.”

Why does he do it? Because he has a dream to be a ballroom dancer. Like the definition of syncopation (to shift regular beat), he longs to change the beat of his meat packing life. After seven long weeks of waiting, the first woman to answer the ad has a similar longing. Anna Bianchi (Lisa Morse) is a young woman of Italian ancestry. She works in a factory where she sews beads on garments and is engaged to be married to a man her parents want her to marry.

Though the dancers are off to a questionable start, the magic of dance brings Henry and Anna more and more in tune with each other’s bodies and movements. The beauty of this romantic drama is that it takes time to build the relationship between the two dancers projecting an innocence that we can only long for in today’s world. It also shows how influential the arts of music and dance are to the art of love.

Ribolow and Morse are delightful as Henry and Anna, and the play takes place in a revolutionary time for dance, which gave rise to ballroom dancers’ Irene and Vernon Castle. Though not as intense a drama as Marin Theatre’s Music Lesson, Syncopation is a heart-warming comedy about the importance of fulfilling one’s dreams.

For tickets or more information call (415) 388-5208 or visit

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