OU-Chillicothe Theater Presents Romantic Comedy “Sylvia”

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The Ohio University-Chillicothe theater program is presenting the heart-warming romantic comedy Sylvia at 8 p.m. on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 in the Bennett Hall auditorium.

Admission is free as part of a “preview night” for the Friday night performance. Tickets will be available for sale at the box office outside of the auditorium prior to the Saturday performance.

Tickets for that performance are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and free for OU-C students. Group rates of $8 per ticket are also available.

The play, written by A.R. Gurney and first staged in 1995 in Manhattan, involves Greg and Kate, a middle-aged couple who move to the city after 22 child-raising years in the suburbs, and the street-smart dog who turns their worlds upside-down.

Sylvia the dog soon becomes the centerpiece in their lives, for better or worse, adding excitement at a time that Greg and Kate are looking to wind down.

While Greg is quickly overcome by the charms of the canine who earns the reputation as man’s best friend, Kate sees the dog as competition.

As with any good tale involving a character with a tail, Kate later has a change of heart through a transformation that is bound to draw a laugh from even the cat-lovers in the audience.

“I always say that, instead of choosing the plays, the plays find us, and that is certainly true again with Sylvia,” said director Ken Breidenbaugh. “Each semester, a group of actors shows up, and we find what best fits them.”

“We have done this play before, and it is a real crowd-pleaser. This is, indeed, a play about a dog and a person’s relationship with man’s best friend. It also explores the dynamics of marriage and what happens when a new creature is brought into the mix,” Breidenbaugh said.

The canine aspect of the play makes it especially appealing.

“The audience quickly becomes caught up in the play. Many people have pets and realize how attached an individual can become to an animal, so it is easy to identify with Sylvia,” Breidenbaugh said.

The student-actors are quickly warming up to the production.

“I think, for a lot of men, their dog is like a child to them, especially after their own children have grown up,” said Ben Roark, a Unioto High School graduate who plays the role of Greg. “But, it is more than just a story of a man and a dog. It is about the connection individuals have with their pets.”

Roark likes the role he has in the play.

“It is really active and not boring, to say the least. The main thing is to sell to the audience the relationship Greg has with his dog,” he said.

Gwenndolyn Aume, a post-secondary option student from Logan Elm, plays the role of the wife, Kate.

“She is very likable but, at the same time, she can be short with her husband and she gets frustrated with the dog,” Aume explained.

Kate’s feelings toward the pooch change over time.

“She grows to accept the dog, especially when she realizes Greg still cares about her. It makes it seem that Kate really does have a heart, “Aume said.

Jennifer Adams has the difficult cross-species task of playing the role of Sylvia. “I have always been a pet person, and it has been an adventure to channel my inner dog,” said Adams, a Chillicothe High School graduate.

“Since I am not wearing the costume or makeup to appear as a dog, it is more of a mentality than overall physical appearance,” she explained in assuming a canine persona. “It is more in the mannerisms. There is an opportunity to hear the dog vocalize its thoughts. Sometimes, they are deep thoughts and, at other times, the dog is just sniffing stuff.

As would seem appropriate, this particular play has become a pet project of all who are associated with the OU-C theater program.

“It is a lovely story, and I like to think of it as an early Christmas present to our theater patrons,” Breidenbaugh said.