By Ricky Ian Gordon
Directed by Tina Landau
Originally produced at Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA.
May 18,2010 through June 20, 2010
About the Premiere Production: Backed by an eight-member cast and an eight-piece orchestra, Sycamore Trees is a moving, autobiographical musical about a working-class Jewish family and their struggle to rely on each other through good times and bad.
“When my father came home from World War II in 1945, my family lived in a crowded tenement in the Bronx, poor and with bed bugs. Then my parents got the idea to move to the suburbs where the dream of life flowering in a clean and spacious environment promised to be the answer. It wasn’t. This is the story of a family and what happened to them…and music is its heartbeat and inner life.” – Ricky Ian Gordon
Ricky Ian Gordon is a leading composer of vocal music and is a unique voice in American musical theater. His 1999 musical, Dream True,premiered at New York’s Vineyard Theatre and earned a Richard Rogers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2003, his musical My Life with Albertine premiered at Playwrights Horizons and was the winner of an AT&T Award. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times called Ricky Ian Gordon’s 2005 full-scale opera, The Grapes of Wrath, a “great achievement in merging Broadway and opera.”
Artistic Statement: Signature Theatre has grown from its modest roots to become a Tony Award®-winning regional theater and a leading force in creating, producing, and sustaining musical theater. Throughout its history, the company has provided a creative home for established and emerging artists to collaborate on fresh new projects and Signature has earned a reputation as a place for artists to develop and test new works. Since its founding, Signature has produced 25 world premiere plays – including 13 new musicals – and its reputation for top-notch musical production attracts the best and brightest in the field.
Creating new work is particularly gratifying. I am proud and excited to be producing Sycamore Trees as the capstone to Signature’s 20th Anniversary season and am committed to giving Ricky the best opportunity to develop and produce his work. He is a composer of amazing scope, writing for the concert hall, opera, dance, theater, and film. Sycamore Trees is an extremely personal piece, dealing with real-life people and situations from his own family. Signature’s uniquely intimate MAX Theatre is the kind of space that will amplify the human themes present in Ricky’s rich new musicaland draw audiences even closer to the action, especially given the familial story-telling atmosphere of the work.
When Signature commissioned Sycamore Trees, I knew Ricky would be a good fit. His voice is unique, he tackles interesting subjects, and actors love to sing his material. I believe that Ricky Ian Gordon is a different voice in American musical theater and needs to be heard on a national scale. It is commendable that Ricky has taken such a personal journey while writing this musical. What makes Sycamore Trees so special is the way all of us can relate to it.
Director: Tina Landau
Book, Music, and Lyrics : Ricky Ian Gordon
Orchestrations : Bruce Coughlin
Additional Funders: Shen Family Foundation