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Sylvia  ****** Las Vegas Little Theatre Performance: 22 January 2012 This play, written by A. R. Gurney, was originally performed on Broadway, with Sarah Jessica Parker portraying the title character, as well as Blythe Danner and Charles Kimbrough playing Kate and Greg. A performance with such an amazing cast must have really been rather spectacular, but even though I have never had the pleasure of seeing it myself I daresay that the Las Vegas Little Theater’s Production of “Sylvia” more than stood its ground, because, quite simply and all comparisons aside, it was incredibly good in its own right. So to set the scene: after many years of child-rearing Kate and Greg, a middle-aged Manhattan couple, suddenly find themselves left to their own resources only to realize that they are not coping as well as might be expected. Especially Greg seems to be experiencing some kind of midlife crisis, which manifests itself in its full blown glory after he finds a stray labradoodle in the park, our title heroine Sylvia, and decides to adopt her.  The older man and the dog fall in love at first sight, but unfortunately for them Kate is slightly less enthusiastic and does not quite appreciate that Sylvia appears to have taken Kate’s place in her husband’s affections. Thus begins the war between the two women (one human, one canine) for the man’s love in the oldest, even if this time slightly less conventional,  triangle in the world and it is touch and go as to which one will finally emerge the victor. Throw in Greg completely transforming his lifestyle and attitude towards his career (or lack thereof) and Sylvia trying to adapt to her new home in ways which usually do not endear her to Kate’s heart and you get a play that is downright hilarious and will win you over even if you have never owned a dog. The absolute star of LVLT’s production is definitely Penni Mendez portraying Sylvia. I have seen her perform in several other plays, but this is certainly (at least in my humble opinion) her best role so far. The whole paradox and a big part of the comedy is the fact that she looks like a very cute girl on the outside, but acts like an over-excited and not always well-behaved dog. With some rather prominent characteristics of the above mentioned human female (she is very proud of her appearance after her “grooming”, woos and almost romances Greg), she still has her “naughty” fun with male dogs and  can go completely crazy and curse like a sailor at the mere sight of a cat. That scene, alone, is worth buying the ticket for because if it will not have you helpless with laughter, then nothing will… Also, part French, she is a dog of the most refined sophistication and can burst into Edith Piaf’s “No, je ne regretted rien” (No, I Regret Nothing) any time the circumstances call for a musical number to class things up a bit. So to summarize, part lady, part tramp, Penni gives the most delightful performance and is absolutely genuine and lovable in her canine enthusiasm and fierceness. Also Cindy Lee Stock as Kate and Brian Scott as Greg did a very good job portraying their respective characters. You can definitely see how perplexed and completely at a loss Kate is when suddenly her spouse of many years seems to hold a stray dog in much higher esteem than his own wife. Cindy Lee Stock conveys those emotions really well and even though, let’s face it, we all root for Sylvia, we can’t help but feel sympathy for Kate’s predicament as well. Brian Scott’s acting demonstrates the confusion and the search for the meaning of life that Greg is involved in and what he doesn’t say with words, he communicates through his facial expressions, so that we can get a little glimpse into his soul and guess what might be going on inside it.  And soon the realization dawns on us that Sylvia most likely represents a lot more than just a lost pooch to him…  Last but not least, Frank Gambino, Jr. in his triple role of Tom, Phyllis and Leslie provides quite a few laughs, not only does he look hilarious dressed as a woman (all the drag queens of the world beware, this would be one sight you shall not forget easily), but he also supports his visual assets with some prime-time comedy skills. All in all a play really worth recommending. Very well produced and directed (courtesy of Gillen Brey) it’s pleasing to the eye in every aspect, starting with the set design (David Sankuer), depicting a New York apartment with a Manhattan skyline to lighting (Giny Adams), which complements the mood of each scene perfectly. Maybe “Sylvia” will not change your life or provide some profound moments of enlightenment, but it will certainly make you smile, laugh and perhaps even shed a tear, as it contains some very comic, but also truthful observations about relationships, love, and how sometimes we lose ourselves in the middle of it all only to find help and fulfillment in the most unexpected places…

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Sylvia  ****** Las Vegas Little Theatre Performance: 22 January 2012 This play, written by A. R. Gurney, was originally performed on Broadway, with Sarah Jessica Parker portraying the title character, as well as Blythe Danner and Charles Kimbrough playing Kate and Greg. A performance with such an amazing cast must have really been rather spectacular, but even though I have never had the pleasure of seeing it myself I daresay that the Las Vegas Little Theater’s Production of “Sylvia” more than stood its ground, because, quite simply and all comparisons aside, it was incredibly good in its own right. So to set the scene: after many years of child-rearing Kate and Greg, a middle-aged Manhattan couple, suddenly find themselves left to their own resources only to realize that they are not coping as well as might be expected. Especially Greg seems to be experiencing some kind of midlife crisis, which manifests itself in its full blown glory after he finds a stray labradoodle in the park, our title heroine Sylvia, and decides to adopt her.  The older man and the dog fall in love at first sight, but unfortunately for them Kate is slightly less enthusiastic and does not quite appreciate that Sylvia appears to have taken Kate’s place in her husband’s affections. Thus begins the war between the two women (one human, one canine) for the man’s love in the oldest, even if this time slightly less conventional,  triangle in the world and it is touch and go as to which one will finally emerge the victor. Throw in Greg completely transforming his lifestyle and attitude towards his career (or lack thereof) and Sylvia trying to adapt to her new home in ways which usually do not endear her to Kate’s heart and you get a play that is downright hilarious and will win you over even if you have never owned a dog. The absolute star of LVLT’s production is definitely Penni Mendez portraying Sylvia. I have seen her perform in several other plays, but this is certainly (at least in my humble opinion) her best role so far. The whole paradox and a big part of the comedy is the fact that she looks like a very cute girl on the outside, but acts like an over-excited and not always well-behaved dog. With some rather prominent characteristics of the above mentioned human female (she is very proud of her appearance after her “grooming”, woos and almost romances Greg), she still has her “naughty” fun with male dogs and  can go completely crazy and curse like a sailor at the mere sight of a cat. That scene, alone, is worth buying the ticket for because if it will not have you helpless with laughter, then nothing will… Also, part French, she is a dog of the most refined sophistication and can burst into Edith Piaf’s “No, je ne regretted rien” (No, I Regret Nothing) any time the circumstances call for a musical number to class things up a bit. So to summarize, part lady, part tramp, Penni gives the most delightful performance and is absolutely genuine and lovable in her canine enthusiasm and fierceness. Also Cindy Lee Stock as Kate and Brian Scott as Greg did a very good job portraying their respective characters. You can definitely see how perplexed and completely at a loss Kate is when suddenly her spouse of many years seems to hold a stray dog in much higher esteem than his own wife. Cindy Lee Stock conveys those emotions really well and even though, let’s face it, we all root for Sylvia, we can’t help but feel sympathy for Kate’s predicament as well. Brian Scott’s acting demonstrates the confusion and the search for the meaning of life that Greg is involved in and what he doesn’t say with words, he communicates through his facial expressions, so that we can get a little glimpse into his soul and guess what might be going on inside it.  And soon the realization dawns on us that Sylvia most likely represents a lot more than just a lost pooch to him…  Last but not least, Frank Gambino, Jr. in his triple role of Tom, Phyllis and Leslie provides quite a few laughs, not only does he look hilarious dressed as a woman (all the drag queens of the world beware, this would be one sight you shall not forget easily), but he also supports his visual assets with some prime-time comedy skills. All in all a play really worth recommending. Very well produced and directed (courtesy of Gillen Brey) it’s pleasing to the eye in every aspect, starting with the set design (David Sankuer), depicting a New York apartment with a Manhattan skyline to lighting (Giny Adams), which complements the mood of each scene perfectly. Maybe “Sylvia” will not change your life or provide some profound moments of enlightenment, but it will certainly make you smile, laugh and perhaps even shed a tear, as it contains some very comic, but also truthful observations about relationships, love, and how sometimes we lose ourselves in the middle of it all only to find help and fulfillment in the most unexpected places…
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