Family, feminism at heart of Colorado Springs production of 'Sylvia'

By Jen Mulson Updated: April 14, 2017 at 5:39 pm • Published: April 14, 2017 0
photo - "Sylvia" runs through April 30 at Funky Little Theater Company and stars (left to right)  Catherine Cotton McGuire, John Zincone and Amanda Gaden. Photo credit: John Zincone/Chris Medina
"Sylvia" runs through April 30 at Funky Little Theater Company and stars (left to right) Catherine Cotton McGuire, John Zincone and Amanda Gaden. Photo credit: John Zincone/Chris Medina

A random trip to a New York City park changes Greg's life forever.

That's where he meets Sylvia, the comely, shaggy-haired lady who steals the married man's heart. Only Sylvia's not a woman - she's a dog; a labradoodle, to be precise. And Greg's wife, Kate, is not impressed.

A.R. Gurney's 1995 comedy "Sylvia" opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Funky Little Theater Company in Colorado Springs.

Director Chris Medina fell in love with the play as he researched its 20-year history and discovered Sarah Jessica Parker originated the role of Sylvia, which is played by a woman. A decade later, Parker's husband, Matthew Broderick, starred as Greg.

The addition of Sylvia to the family causes a ruckus - Kate is convinced the dog needs to go or the marriage will break. Greg's deep affection for the dog ensures he won't be saying goodbye anytime soon. The new family member constitutes either an ending or new beginning for their decades-long marriage.

"It's about family relationships and something you may be comfortable with, like a 22-year marriage, and how at anytime something could rock the boat," Medina said. "It's about bigger things outside of your control that can happen."

The play is also a vehicle for feminism, Medina said.

"Play houses turned him (Gurney) down - they thought having a woman playing a dog was demeaning," Medina said. "Sarah Jessica Parker said it was the opposite; that it was an empowering piece. It's identifying as a female and what choices I can make for myself or what outside sources make choices for you. In the climate right now, having a roomful of men talk about female health care is like a male dog owner deciding what to do with his female dog."

Greg must make a decision about Sylvia's future as a dog mama during the course of the show. Medina thinks it's relevant to the present day.

"Why is a roomful of dudes talking about abortion rights and health care rights for women?" Medina said. "It makes no sense."

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