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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — February 6, 2004


‘Sylvia’ barks up
the right tree

Cast reassembles for production

Express Staff Writer

Warning: This play is a dog.

No kidding. The New Theatre Company’s production of "Sylvia" is a play about a pesky dog and a seemingly stable New York couple. It’s to be mounted—or rather remounted—Feb. 12 through 21 at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Curtain time is 8 p.m.

In fact, NTC mounted this play with the same cast eight years ago. Joyce E. Greene directed.

"Sylvia" by A. R. Gurney was first produced in May 1995 by the Manhattan Theatre Club. That production starred Blythe Danner, Charles Kimbrough and Sarah Jessica Parker—to whom the play is dedicated—in the title role.

Claudia McCain and David Blampied play owner and pet in the production of "Syliva" opening next week at nexStage Theatre. Courtesy photo

Not incidentally, NTC has Claudia McCain in the title role as the pooch, Sylvia. David Blampied and Joyce E. Greene play the couple, Steve d’Smith plays several roles and the play is directed by Robert Rais. Greene has jetted in from New York where she’s a singer to appear in this show with her old comrades.

The play concerns a middle aged husband who brings a stray dog home to his New York apartment. His wife, Kate, is not all that pleased by the unexpected addition to the family. Can a mere canine break up a marriage? Maybe it can, since due to the presence of the amenable pooch, the marriage, once apparently earthbound and secure, takes to the high seas in a very rocky boat.

Now a tad more mature, the original cast has reassembled for the production. In that time, Blampied’s New Theatre Company has grown, producing a New Play Reading Series each year and at least one full fledged production. Blampied, who had never owned a dog at the time of the first production, now has a constant companion, Jack, a Jack Russell.

Gurney, being a dog lover, brings a heightened awareness to the role of the husband.

"My take is completely different now," Blampied admitted. "I react differently, my natural instincts and the way I talk to Sylvia. It’s unconditional love. With a pet its almost always there. I had no idea. The most special thing is that look, the face, you recognize what its thinking and what it would say if it could speak. It was a shock to me.

"There’s a line in the play," he continued, " ‘You’d think I was going to India when I leave, the look on Sylvia’s face.’ "This particular play is Gurney’s take on relationships. This is the beauty of ‘Sylvia.’ There are the relationships between characters. He gives you a kaleidoscope of relationships to laugh at, but look at the absurdity of any of our relationships."

Gurney writes incredibly comic plays with great intelligence such as "The Cocktail Hour," "The Dining Room," "Love Letters," "The Golden Age" and "Sweet Sue." In fact, NTC decided to produce "Sylvia" after so many people expressed their desire to see them mount it again.

Tickets for "Sylvia" are available for purchase through nexStage’s new ticket hotline, 726-4tks, or online at ticketweb.com. The box office is open at the theater on Main Street Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 4 to 6 p.m. During the run of the show the box office is open until 7 p.m.

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