OKC Theatre Company continues its season with the production of A.R. Gurney’s romantic comedy Sylvia.
The play follows the story of a middle-aged, recently empty-nested couple whose already-strained marriage is put to the test when husband Greg takes in a stray dog. Yes, its name is Sylvia.
The conceit of the play is that Sylvia, while perceived as a normal dog by the other characters, is actually a human that communicates her thoughts and feelings directly to the audience.
Scott Hynes makes his directorial debut with this show. He has earned acclaim as an actor and lighting and sound designer with numerous Oklahoma City theater companies.
“I’ve directed countless shows in my mind, from those I was in to those I wish I were,” Hynes said and laughed.
As for the choice to helm Sylvia, Hynes fell in love with the script a few years ago, about the same time he started having the urge to direct. He was also inspired by his own personal Sylvia.
“Fuzz, a Pomeranian-sheltie mix, has had an enormous effect on my life, so maybe it’s life imitating art,” Hynes said. “Or is it the other way ’round?” Hynes has found that his experience can work for or against him.
“Having been an actor first has helped me understand how actors like to work and also allowed me to trust them a little more,” he said. “The technician in me allowed me to see the show in visual images and gave me a complete look to work toward.”
The cast includes veteran stage actor Mike Waugh as Greg. Hynes said that Waugh is naturally hysterical but takes a very grounded approach to to his character, selling the reality of his relationship with Sylvia.
Greg’s wife, Kate, is performed by Mikie Gillmore.
“Her no-nonsense, practical and well-educated approach is a natural foil to Greg’s affability,” Hynes said.
Recent University of Central Oklahoma theater graduate Jessica Bisel is titular character Sylvia. Hynes said that Bisel brings a youthful exuberance and natural innocence to the very physically challenging role.
The cast is rounded out by David Burkhart as Tom, a hipster dog owner well-versed in pet-owner psychology, and Christine Lanning, playing both Phyllis, an erudite, Upper-West-Side socialite, and Leslie, a sexually ambiguous psychiatrist.
Sylvia follows on the heels of OCTC’s controversial sold-out run of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, but Hynes assured audiences that there’s nothing to get up in arms about when it comes to Sylvia, save a few dirty words here and there.
“It is a beautiful and righteous story about traditional marriage and man’s best friend,” Hynes said.