Have you ever heard of the play Sylvia? No? It’s okay. I was in the same boat!
Here’s what the director has shared about the plot: “The play opens in Greg and Kate’s Manhattan apartment with Greg (Thomas Mejia) bringing home a rather bedraggled stray dog by the name of Sylvia (Nicole Weintraub) according to her dog tag. It’s a tale of a man and his dog and no one should come between a man and his dog even if it is the man’s wife, Kate (Cindy Roy). Kate shows more resentment to Sylvia as the play progresses as Greg and Sylvia become more and more inseparable. After all, with the freedom of having kids now away in college Kate has other plans which doesn’t include dogs. Other characters appear by the names of Tom, Phyllis and Leslie (all played by Keith Parrish) giving Greg some good and some not so good advice. The conflict builds to where it’s all doom and gloom for Sylvia to the point where Sylvia is …… Well that would be telling now wouldn’t it.“
This play may sound a bit odd, and it is, but you can’t say that it isn’t intriguing! The director, John B. Gillis, says that he actually came across this play by accident when he was googling Matthew Broderick. He was immediately interested in the show, and he bought the script right away. At this time, Gillis was living in Kansas City, and he recommended the play for that community theatre’s upcoming season. The play was selected, but somebody else was chosen to direct it. “I never lost desire to direct Sylvia,“ Gillis says. “After moving to Goldsboro and joining Center Stage Theatre (CST) and becoming involved with the play selection committee, I again proposed Sylvia and again I applied to direct it, which I was successful on both counts.”
One problem with doing this show, however, is that it doesn’t have the same name-recognition as other shows. Heath Radford has been working tirelessly with community outreach for this show. “What I have tried to do is pull themes from the show and seek organizations that have similar themes, as well.” Radford explains. One of the themes that Radford recognized about Sylvia is the impact that a pet makes upon the life of its owners, so he has reached out to pet organizations in Wayne County like Pet Supplies Plus and Diamonds in the Ruff. For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Pet Supplies Plus has graciously created a display for everyone to see at the performances. Radford added, “If you know someone who has a pet or is currently involved in a local pet organization, this is a show that they should try to see!” (Radford also requested that I note that he is extremely attractive and is very single and available to any of the blog readers… What a ham!)
Nicole Weintraub (Sylvia) agrees with Radford. She says, “If you have a pet, then you will love this show. The show deals with the connection between pets and their owners. It will make you laugh and maybe even go in awe.” She credits her inspiration for her newfound dog-isms to her own dog Jasmine, as she spent weeks observing, imitating, and simply having fun with her to prepare for this role.
Another aspect that sets Sylvia apart from most shows is the cast size: this show has only four actors! Keith Parrish himself performs the roles of Tom, Phyllis, and Leslie. Parrish claims that he has had a really hard time finding a pair of heels that feel right for his female roles, and that he appreciates the costumer’s (Julie Ham) help with that. He says, “Having to play three roles over the course of two and a half scenes creates a situation where I can’t decide if I need to put on my pearls or my baseball cap for a scene.” Parrish has had to focus a lot on his characters for this show, and he claims that his current dilemma is that he can’t decide what color to paint his toenails so that they’ll match his dress. (Yes, you read that right!)
Gillis is anxious for audiences to finally see Sylvia. He acknowledges that his actors have “thrived under pressure” even though the majority of them have never had a leading role before, and he “was ecstatic to watch them develop, mature, and flourish” in their roles. Gillis explains, “They rose (and have risen) to my challenge that Goldsboro may not be Broadway, but that is no excuse to not perform like it is. And that excites me.”
With such a small cast and crew, everybody involved with this show has grown close throughout the rehearsals.
As mentioned above, the cast includes: Thomas Mejia (Greg), Nicole Weintraub (Sylvia), Cindy Roy (Kate), and Keith Parrish (Tom, Phyllis, and Leslie).
The crew includes: John B. Gillis (Director), Venessa Therrien (Assistant Director/Stage Manager), Karen Parrish (Producer), Julie Ham (Costumes), Bill Royall (Set Design), Sequilla Arita (Properties, Elva Graham (Makeup), Gene McLendon (Lights), Jayson Keeton (Sound), and Mike Saviak (Sound).
Wayne County Museum (116 N William St.)
October 10th : 7:30 PM
October 11th: 7:30 PM
Octover 12th: 3:00 PM
Photos were provided by Karen Parrish, Producer.