Have you ever had something come between you and a relationship? Something that brings you joy, something precious but maybe something that makes a boss or a mate unhappy with the new you?
"Sylvia" by A.R. Gurney ("Love Letters," "The Cocktail Hour") tackles that very dilemma with clever vehicle of a human playing a dog that talks. Sylvia, an adorable, salty-tongued "labradoodle" enters the lives of empty nesters Greg and Kate after their move from the suburbs to Manhattan and proceeds to disrupt the couple's marriage.
The original New York off-Broadway production opened in 1995 and featured the all-star cast of Charles Kimbrough ("Murphy Brown"), Blythe Danner ("Meet the Parents" and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow), and Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City") as Sylvia. That title role, along with her Tonynominated performance in the revival of "Once Upon a Mattress" launched Parker from former child/teen star ("Annie," "Footloose") to a litany of great roles over.
Jackie Shea (center) plays a dog named Sylvia who comes between Kate (Marilyn Hirashima and Greg (Scott Newman) in ProArts’ poignant comedy.
Stepping into the role here on Maui is fellow New York actress Jackie Shea (MAPA's "Theophilus North"). Shea is a graduate of the famed Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Arts where she studied with dramatic teacher James Moody, who played himself in the film "Fame." She continued her education studying Sanford Meisner's technique for two years under legendary New York dramatic coach William Esper.
When asked if she felt any pressure taking on a role so attributed to Parker, she answered, "Yes, I'm definitely feeling it" but added "Mark Collmer (director of the Pro Arts production) is encouraging me to play the character differently." Collmer's take and Shea's portrayal will be more doglike and less human.
"An actor needs to live in the moment, moment to moment. What better way to accomplish that than by playing a dog? Dogs truly live moment to moment."
Shea is grateful to the Maui Theater ohana for welcoming her. "It's been an adjustment; community theater doesn't really exist in Manhattan. I'm used to being surrounded by very ambitious individuals and there is a lot more competition. On Maui it's much easier to get involved with the community."
"Sylvia" is technically a comedy but Shea adds, "My character doesn't know it's a comedy. The comedy is in the lines." Beyond the humor, Gurney's script is a tragic love story, so bring some Kleenex because it will get you, especially if you're a dog owner.
With Scott Newman playing new dog-owner Greg and Marilynn Hirashima as Kate, Greg's long suffering wife, it's got a little "No Exit" love triangle in it as well as the J.Geils Band's "Love Stinks."
Greg loves Kate; Kate loves Greg; Greg loves Sylvia; Kate hates Sylvia. What do you do when you are given an ultimatum? Most of us defensively object, especially if we love something dearly. Greg's conflict is a familiar one like Travis and his Old Yeller dilemma, Yuri and Lara from "Dr. Zhivago" or Rick and Ilsa in "Casablanca."
Kalani Whitford plays three characters: Tom, Phyllis, and Leslie. The show marks Mark Collmer's debut with ProArts, after directing "The Odd Couple" with Maui OnStage and "The Pirates of Penzance" with MAPA. The "Sylvia" design crew includes scenery by Caro Walker, costumes by the equally busy Marsha Kelly and lighting by Bonnie Prucha.
* "Sylvia" opens Friday and runs until Oct. 23. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. There will be no performance this Sunday. Reserved seats are $20 for adults, $15 for students 18 and younger. Kamaaina nights, $15 with Hawaii ID, are scheduled for Saturday and Thursdays, Oct. 13 and 20. ProArts Playhouse is located at the Azeka (Makai) Shopping Center in Kihei. "Sylvia" contains adult language. Call 463-6550 for tickets or more information.
Also opening this weekend, Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents an outdoor production of Shakespeare's most magical comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Sally Sefton directs a cast of two dozen Seabury students. "Dream" portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Greek Duke Theseus to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, as well as the adventures of young lovers and a band of bumpkins who are manipulated by fairies that inhabit the forest. Most notable from the tale is the wildly popular and timeless character, Puck played by Kelsey Greenway.
The play, likely written in the1590s, was banned in England from 1642 to1660 and was rarely performed again until the Victorian era. It wasn't until the 20th century that it achieved its current popularity as a vehicle for young actors. Its alumni of great stars over the years include James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Sir Ian Holm, Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale and Calista Flockheart. "Dream" scenes even made their way into "Porky's II" as the class play in the crass teen comedy.
Join Puck and fellow spirits, Oberon (Gregory Saydah) and Titania (Makena Wright), outdoors under the jacarandas of Olinda. Vanessa Cerrito choreographs and designs the 1920s-era costumes with Andre Morissette. The two pairs of young lovers are played by Ariella Brandon, Zoe Harrelson, Zeb Mehring and Ryan Noufer. The "rude mechanicals" are led by Zowie Haugaard as Bottom and Taka Tsutsui as Quince. Wyatt West plays Flute/Thisbe, Tyler Gentile is Snout/Wall, Daniel Pietsch is Starveling/Moon and Adam Lundblad is Snug/Lion.
John Bailey is Theseus and Laura Mayron plays his bride, Hippolyta. The attendants are Kathryn Adler as Egeia and Rhiannon Hernandez as Philostrate. The chorus of spirits includes Celina Bekins, Kristina Brown, Ashley Chen, Mika Eisen, Danielle Ferrer, Lindsey Gomez, Ana Rogers, Cassidy Ross and Kara Termulo.
* "A Midsummer Night's Dream" opens Friday and runs until Oct. 16. Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays at the Cooper House reflection pond on the Seabury Hall campus in Olinda. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. Dress warmly. Seating is provided and limited space for short lawn chairs and blankets will be available in the front and to the sides of the seating platforms. For information and reservations, call 573-1257.
"An Evening with Lee Cataluna" 6:30 tonight in McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC: The Maui-born-and-raised writer will read from her hilarious new novel set on Maui, "Three Years on Doreen's Sofa." Cataluna has been a journalist, novelist and playwright in Hawaii for the past 20 years. Her award-winning works include the plays "Half Dozen Long Stem," "Da Maya" and her collection of short stories, "Folks You Meet in Longs." The author notes that the amusing presentation is not meant for children due to adult language.
* Tickets are $20 plus applicable fees. To purchase visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
Disney's "Imagination Movers" 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Castle Theater at the MACC: The Big Easy-based rock band for kids and stars of a hit television series are bringing their act to Maui for one day only! When the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina, the disaster turned the band's world upside down, but it didn't put an end to their dream or the Movers' motto: "Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun!" Expect appearances from hula-dancing Nina (Wendy Calio, born and raised on Oahu and graduate of Mililani High School), the warehouse mouse, and other popular characters from the series.
* Tickets are $15, $25, $35 and $45, plus applicable fees, available as above.
"If You Love Me" by Keali'iwahine Hokoana: Talking Stories and Women Helping Women present an original play about learning to love and be loved, despite love's imperfect nature. It stars Jett Batoon, Rachael Bega, Nakota Kai Crumbo, Vinnie Linares, Isaac Rauch and Emi Nakashima. Derek Nakagawa directs.
* It plays at at the Historic Iao Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, Saturday, Oct. 15; 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16; and 10:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17. Tickets are $10 pre-sale or $15 at the door. For details or reservations, call 242-6600 or visit whwmaui.net.
Rocktober returns to the Historic Iao Theater: "Bride of Rocktober" kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Monday with ONO! "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "The Hitch-Hiker" by Lucille Fletcher. The classic thriller is part of Maui OnStage's free theater series.
"Boo! Lesque": Honolulu's Cherry Blossom Cabaret presents and evening of Halloween-themed burlesque Friday, Oct. 21. Two shows begin at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 (separate admissions for each show, 21 and over only, valid ID required).
"Cask of Amontillado," a one- act musical adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's tale of horror, will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 29; and 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30. Tickets are $10.
"Thriller" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show" will show in free 8 p.m. screenings Monday, Oct. 31. For more information, call 242-8680 or visit mauionstage.com.