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‘Sylvia’ plans to make a difference for area pets

Feb. 8, 2019 – Those involved with Slightly Off Broadway Theatre’s next production hope to do more than just entertain the community, they want to make a difference in the lives of some Excelsior Springs’ furry friends.

Sarah Oldham, director of Sylvia, which opens Feb. 15, said they hope to showcase photos and information on the area’s adoptable pets in the lobby during the production. She said they will accept donations of supplies that area shelters need.

“Anyone who makes a donation, we’ll give them a free popcorn,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll take a look at the adoption board and find a forever friend that needs to go home with them.”

Oldham said she and the cast decided to help area shelters because of the love they have for their pets. It also ties in nicely to the play, which at its core shows the relationship between a man and his dog.

Colonsay Selby, who plays Sylvia, said she describes her character as the quintessential girl of the streets. She knows the tough life, Selby said. Oldham said Sylvia also happens to be a dog.

“Sylia is a normal dog,” Oldham said. “She just wants to be loved and fit in and rule the roost and sleep on the couch and do the things that our furry friends like to do … and it creates some tension in the marriage.”

Patrick Simpson, who plays Greg, said his character seems to be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. No longer finding fulfillment in his career, he plays hooky from work one day … and comes home with a dog.

When Sylvia finds her Greg in the park, she fills a hole in his life, he said. Selby said Sylvia sees something more in Greg.

“I think when she finds Greg in the park, she realizes that this is her salvation and latches on and he latches on to her and things is great until I come home and meet the wife.”

As Kate, Greg’s wife embarks in a new career after her children leave home, she does not see Sylvia as just a dog. Dawn Stevenson, who plays Kate said she sees Sylvia as a threat that could come between her and the life she wants.

“I think she sees Sylvia as the other women in a way,” she said. “Just kinda this obstacle.”

Stevenson said she can see Kate’s point of view. Greg decided to change their lives without even consulting her, she said. Kate must try and get her way as well.

The play takes the audience back to the basics of communication, Selby said. It will help them remember why human beings have relationships.

The audience will also laugh, Oldham said, and find themselves experiencing real life emotions alongside the characters as they attempt to find their way through this new experience. The play shows how the heartache of the family, she said, as well as the happiness.

Simpson said the play explores emotions that people truly have. The show also portrays the emotions of Sylvia as well.

Heping local animals prove to be a bonus for the cast. Selby said her dogs provided the support she needed as a girl. As an adult, she said her dogs became part of the family.

Now, with the current economic climate, some have trouble trying to feed themselves and their children, she said. This will be a way for them to give back to those in the community that cannot fend for themselves.

“It’s unfortunate that (abandoning animals) happens more than people would like to think,” she said.

Simpson said he encourages everyone to support the local shelters. Stevenson said she adores the cats that she and Simpson, her real-life husband, adopted.

“I would go home with probably all of them if I had the room,” she said.

Oldham said, because she used to live in the country, she would often see animals dumped by their owners. She hopes the play can help tell the stories of those animals who suffer and provide them with some needed relief. Her animals have helped her family through tough times, she said. Many others have similar stories as well.

“We all have stories about how they’re there for us and how they make us feel,” she said.

Sylvia will run Feb 15-16, 22-24 and March 1-2. Friday and Saturday’s performances start at 7:30 p.m. with the Sunday matinee beginning at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $13 for adults and $6 for children aged 12 and under. Anyone wishing to get more information can visit sobtheatre.org.

By Kimberely Blackburn • kimberely@leaderpress.com

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