By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Theater unleashes 'Sylvia'

Marcus Larson/News-RegisterUsing all her doggy senses, Sylvia (Jillyn Chang) checks out the New York City apartment where Greg (Aaron Morrow) and his wife reside.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Using all her doggy senses, Sylvia (Jillyn Chang) checks out the New York City apartment where Greg (Aaron Morrow) and his wife reside.
Marcus Larson/News-RegisterA guy in the park (David Bates) points out the whereabouts of a stray dog that Greg will soon be bringing home.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
A guy in the park (David Bates) points out the whereabouts of a stray dog that Greg will soon be bringing home.
Marcus Larson/News-RegisterWith Greg in the middle, Sylvia and Greg’s wife Kate (Julianna Gibbons) square off. The dog brings to the surface all the problems the couple has been having.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
With Greg in the middle, Sylvia and Greg’s wife Kate (Julianna Gibbons) square off. The dog brings to the surface all the problems the couple has been having.

“It’s more about relationships and marriage, the idea of family and the enduring power of love,” said Silva, who is directing at the McMinnville theater for the first time. “It’s sweet, touching and hilarious, and one of those shows that make you learn something.”

“Sylvia” will play at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 7. Tickets are $15 general and $13 for seniors and students.

Silva has been active at Pentacle Theatre since 2009, working behind the scenes and acting. He currently is serving on the Salem theater’s board.

He also has done theater in Portland. He directed in “The Telling Project,” which brought veterans together to share their stories.

Wanting to do more directing, he said he sent proposals to several theaters. Gallery responded, and together he and the Gallery play selection committee decided on “Sylvia.”

“I’d been wanting to do ‘Sylvia’ for more than three years,” he said. “I’d read the script and love it. It’s different than you think — which I like.”

The story starts when Greg brings Sylvia, a stray he found in the park, home to the upscale Manhattan apartment he shares with his wife, Kate.

The couple, empty nesters who’ve been married 22 years, have recently moved there so Kate can pursue her career. Their different opinions about adopting a dog mirror the differences that have been growing between them.

“The dog just exacerbates the tension,” Silva said.

A human plays the dog character. Silva said he debated about how human or how canine to make Sylvia, finally deciding to incorporate human characteristics — just as pet owners always ascribe them to their pups — along with dog mannerisms.

He said he’s delighted with the actor he cast, Jillyn Chang. “She’s energetic and hilarious,” he said. “She acts so perfectly in this role.”

In fact, he said, he’s completely pleased with the whole cast — Aaron Morrow as Greg, Julianna Gibbons is Kate and David Bates in three roles: a macho guy in the park, Kate’s socialite friend and a marriage counselor.

“They are all so hard working, and so committed to the show. They’ve bonded,” he said. “That’s how community theater should be.”

Silva said he and the cast have truly worked together to create the show.

He sees his role not as a dictator, but as a coordinator, who can step back and view the big picture. Cast members are free to add their ideas.

“There’s more than one brain working here,” he said.

He also credited the crew and production designers.

Carolyn McCloskey helped create the NYC apartment set. It features a window through which the audience will see the city skyline, a piece borrowed from Mask & Mirror theater in Tigard.

The set also includes a faux marble floor created by Roland Cranford.

Karen Root is the stage manager and Vicky Ragsdale the backstage manager. Gilbert Chu is the production assistant.

Antonia Osterhout is in charge of costumes.

Robert Osterhout designed the sound, which Paula Terry will run. Kari Trickey will operate the light board.

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