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The dog days of summer arrive early this year, as Rubicon Theatre Company presents a spring production of A.R. Gurney’s howlingly funny canine comedy SYLVIA, a love story about empty nesters Greg and Kate, and an irrepressible mutt named Sylvia. Written by Drama Desk, Obie and Lortel Award-winning playwright A.R. Gurney (also known for Love Letters and The Dining Room), the plot follows what happens after a man going through a midlife crisis finds a dog in Central Park and brings her home without consulting his wife.
SYLVIA is directed by Rubicon Associate Producer and Ovation Award-winner Stephanie A. Coltrin (Miss Saigon), who also helmed Rubicon’s Ovation Recommended production of Moonlight and Magnolias last season. Coltrin has updated the play to present-day New York.
“SYLVIA speaks to our need for unconditional love,” says Coltrin. “The play was originally produced in 1995 – in the days before cell phones and social networking and the intense barrage of stimuli from media and advertising,” she continues.
“In deciding when to set it, we felt that the world has become even more complex, and that updating the play to 2017 increases the stakes and intensifies Greg’s need to connect on a basic level.”
The story of SYLVIA picks up after Greg and Kate move from the suburbs (where they have raised their children), to bustling Manhattan. Although Kate flourishes in the big city, Greg feels restless in his career and his personal life. During a walk in Central Park, Greg discovers a dog with a heart-shaped tag that reads simply “Sylvia.” Greg and Sylvia form an immediate attachment. Greg brings the perky pooch home only to find that Kate doesn’t want the additional responsibility of a dog at this stage in her life, let alone one that jumps, slobbers, chews up books and is clearly competing for Greg’s affections.
The couple agree to keep Sylvia for a few days while they figure out what to do with her, but as Greg and Sylvia return to the park and take walks around the city, Greg realizes that the relationship gives him a sense of purpose and provides him with the love and adoration he has been craving, unfettered by pretense, guile or manipulations. Kate comes to feel more and more threatened by Sylvia, and the two vie for “top dog” status in Greg’s life.
Kate and Greg see a marriage counselor, and Sylvia becomes the catalyst for the expression of pent-up frustrations and long-neglected feelings. Ultimately, Greg must choose between his wife of 22 years and his dog.
Low-priced previews for SYLVIA begin on Wednesday, April 19 at 7 p.m., continuing Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m. Opening night is Saturday, April 22, at 7 p.m. with a pre-show event downstairs at the theatre beginning at 6:00 p.m. and a post-show party at a location TBA. The production continues Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 7. Talkbacks with actors are scheduled after the Wednesday 7 p.m. performances on April 26 and May 3.
Regular tickets for SYLVIA range from $30 to $55 (plus a $4 processing fee). Opening night is $99 (including the receptions). Tickets for students with ID are $25; Equity members and military are $30. There is a $5 discount for seniors 65 and older. Discounts of 10% to 20% are available for groups of 10 or more, depending on the size of the group.
All performances are at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District (the corner or Main and Laurel).
Tickets for SYLVIA may be purchased in person through the Rubicon Theatre Company Box Office at 1006 E. Main Street, the corner of Main and Laurel in Ventura (Laurel entrance and downstairs), or online at www.rubicontheatre.org. To charge by phone, call 805.667.2900. Box office hours are Noon to 6 p.m., seven days a week.