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Theatre Preview

Towne Players of Garner Preview: A Lovable Stray Dog Named Sylvia Competes with a Man's Wife for His Affections

October 15, 2004 - Garner, NC:

The Towne Players of Garner will present Sylvia by A.R. Gurney Oct. 15-23 in The Garner Historic Auditorium. In this charming offbeat romantic comedy, a middle-aged husband meets an adorable stray dog in the park, he takes the mutt home, and his middle-aged wife finds herself competing with the precocious Labrador retriever and Poodle mix for her husband's affections.

Towne Players artistic director Beth Honeycutt says, "I read Sylvia a few years ago and thought it was very funny. I've just been waiting for the right time to do it."

Honeycutt claims, "Sylvia is a modern romantic comedy about a man, his marriage, his mid-life crisis, and his mutt. Greg (Rob Smith) is going through typical middle-age dissatisfaction until he finds Sylvia (Janet Doughty), the dog, in the park. She quickly becomes a bone of contention between Greg, who adores her, and his wife Kate (Meg Dietrich), who sees her as a rival. Phyllis, Kate's old friend, Tom, a fellow dog lover, and Leslie, the gender-confused psychiatrist (all played by Michael Armstrong) offer their advice to the struggling couple."

Beth Honeycutt says, "I like the fact that Sylvia is hard to define. It has a surreal quality to it which I find interesting. It's one of those shows that plays on several different levels. If you just want to be entertained, the show can do that. If you're looking for deeper meaning, it can provide that as well. Having Greg personify the dog one way and his wife personify her in a very different way was fun and challenging. Plus, I think the dialogue is witty and charming."

The critically acclaimed director, whose husband Scott Honeycutt serves as the show's technical director, production designer, and jack-of-all-theatrical-trades, adds, "[T]rying to create several different locations on our small stage is always challenging, but that will be changing soon enough. The town has issued the go-ahead to renovate the auditorium right after [the Garner] centennial! Hooray! But, for now, it's still a bit tough."

Beth Honeycutt says, "The set contrasts the cold, stark, linear apartment with the warm, vivid outdoors. We divided the stage into three playing areas: the apartment, the park, and Leslie's office.

"We had great fun with costumes for these characters," she admits. "Sylvia's clothes often reflect her mood at the time. We see Greg getting more casual and [wearing] warmer colors as time goes on. Kate is very business like. As for Michael's costumes, we wanted all three characters to look believable but very different. We had a great time with this delightful young man, who God bless him, will do anything for the show!"

In reviewing the original production of Sylvia, The New York Times wrote, "Dramatic literature is stuffed with memorable love scenes, but none is as immediately delicious and dizzy as the one that begins the redeeming affair in A.R. Gurney's new comedy, Sylvia...." The New York Daily News critic confessed, "I can only call it one of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen...." And BackStage raved, "Gurney's mad comedy is the most endearing good time to trot down the pike in many a moon. Howlingly funny ...."

Towne Players of Garner present Sylvia Friday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 16, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 21-23, at 8 p.m. in The Garner Historic Auditorium, 742 West Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina. $8 ($6 students and seniors). 919/779-6144. Towne Players of Garner: http://www.towneplayers.org/.