National tour of ‘Proof’ features Springfield actress

The tour will play the Kuss Auditorium on Feb. 17

But there’s only one person who can officially proclaim they’re smarter than John Legend — Krista Apple.

The former John Stephens graduated from North High in 1995 as the class’ mere salutatorian.

Apple, however, was the class valedictorian.

Close to 17 years later, Apple is a professional actress most recently seen in a production of “Proof” at the fabled Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia — the theater where the concept of the curtain call originated and whose stage has been graced by such legends as Helen Hayes, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon and Katharine Hepburn.

The show is a perfect fit for a former valedictorian.

“A lot of people like to market this play as a show about math,” Apple said, “because it’s about a mathematician’s daughter. On the surface, it sounds like a play about math.”

The Walnut Street production of “Proof” with Apple will take to the road next, and, by complete coincidence, the tour will play her hometown on Feb. 17 with one performance at Kuss Auditorium.

The David Auburn play — which won the 2001 Tony for best play and was turned into a 2005 movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow — isn’t actually about math at all.

“It’s a play about fathers and daughters,” Apple said. “It’s a play about family.”

And, for Apple, that’s what makes the fact that this tour is coming home to Springfield so sweet.

Most of her family is still here.

“I was so happy, I cried,” she said of learning the itinerary. “Living on the East Coast, it’s hard to get to share my world with them. It’s an incredible gift to get to share this with my family.”

The show is about a mentally ill math genius and the daughter, Catherine, who quits college to care for him.

She’s just as smart as her father, but fears that, maybe one day, she’ll be just as crazy.

Apple plays Catherine’s older sister, Claire.

Winner of a Barrymore Award in Philly last year for her supporting role in “In the Next Room,” Apple first took to the stage while at North.

“I was so shy in middle school and high school,” she said. “Deep down, I knew being on stage would make me grow as a person like nothing else could.”

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