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Theater Notes: The triumph of ‘Sylvia’

By Staff | Apr 30, 2015

A perfectly thrilling night at the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater was joyfully spent on April 16, opening night of an eight performance run of one of my favorite A.R. Gurney plays, the classic “Sylvia.”

If you’ve seen it you know how delightful the play is. But you may never have seen it done as well as the masterful concoction director June Koc brought to Sanibel. Hats off, again, to Adam Trummel for those superb photo images of New York City and others. They add so much to theater here.

Yes, it’s a play with a talking dog. But where Ms. Koc found this dog I urge her to never return it to the kennel. Bianca De Sanctis lit up that stage like nothing before her. The yelps, the barks, the whining, the flea scratching, and certainly the being in heat, pulled that audience in by their collars and leashes to see what Sylvia was doing to the marriage of Patrick Day and Anne Dodd.

The director knows how to find talent. What performances she drew from her cast, and the subtle touches, the incredible capacity to deepen the feelings a dog can bring out, were gifts. That audience was laughing and chuckling and, I suspect, also wondering about their own marriages as middle age limps into the plot.

Back to that dog. The costumes, the makeup, the utter playfulness of that beast, were constantly thrilling, all night long. Ms. De Sanctis, I think you are on the road to greatness.

But there’s a third player in this drama. One who plays three roles. I’m almost sorry I’ve told you. But some of my wildest kudos go to Tera Nicole Miller who nailed everything she brought to that stage. What range was demanded of her. Sometimes as a man at the dog park with the best Brooklyn accent you’ve heard in any delicatessen you’ve been to lately. Or as a flighty east-side dilettante, and then a perfectly polished marriage therapist, all in three costume changes.

Don’t waste time. Take off your muzzle and break your leash and get yourself to a “Sylvia” somewhere. Sadly, this review may not come out until the run is over. You will have missed it, unless you found out by word of mouth or because you got an email blast from BIG ARTS telling you how much this reviewer loved “Sylvia” as it was done by June Koc and her talented team.

I can just say: Keep your eyes and ears out for community theater. These people with day jobs, who rehearse late at night, and just for us, deserve all the support we can give them. One of the best things you can do is come to their shows and bring your friends and relatives. They will be so grateful. Or I’d get new friends and relatives.

Details at bigarts.org.