In March 2020, Hampton Theatre Company (HTC) was set to open A.R. Gurney's “Sylvia” with Amanda Griemsmann in the title role and Edward Kassar as Greg when COVID-19 shut it down. On May 27, HTC will finally bring its production of “Sylvia” to the stage with Griesmann still playing Sylvia, but with Greg being portrayed by a surprise HTC performer.
More than a year after it was first scheduled to open, “Sylvia,” by A.R. Gurney, will be the Hampton Theatre Company’s (HTC) first production at the Quogue Community Hall since all theaters in New York were shuttered on March 12, 2020 by order of Governor Andrew Cuomo in response to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The romantic comedy about the impact of adopting a stray dog on an empty-nest marriage opens on Thursday, May 27, and runs through June 13.
In accordance with state guidance, seating capacity will be limited for each performance to approximately 60 ticket holders, who will be required to wear appropriate face coverings while inside the theater. To ensure physical distancing, tickets will only be sold in advance through the company’s website, hamptontheatre.org, or by calling 631-653-8955.
In “Sylvia,” a sassy stray dog (played by a human) is brought home from Central Park and becomes a major bone of contention for Greg and Kate. A street-smart mixture of (possibly) Lab and poodle, Sylvia offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. While Kate considers Sylvia a rival for Greg’s affection, Sylvia sees Kate as clueless about the bond between man and dog. After a series of hilarious and touching complications, all three learn lessons about the importance of compromise and the power of love.
Originally produced Off-Broadway in 1995 with Sarah Jessica Parker as Sylvia and Blythe Danner and Charles Kimbrough as Kate and Greg, “Sylvia” was widely produced in regional theater, including by the Hampton Theatre Company in 1998. The play made its Broadway debut in 2015 with Annaleigh Ashford as Sylvia, Matthew Broderick as Greg, and Julie White as Kate.
A.R. (Albert Ramsdell) Gurney Jr. (1930–2017) was an American playwright, novelist and academic. Occasionally credited as Pete Gurney, he is known for works including “The Dining Room” (1982), “Sweet Sue” (1986/7), and “The Cocktail Hour” (1988), and for his Pulitzer Prize nominated play “Love Letters.” His series of plays about upper-class WASP life in contemporary America have been called “penetratingly witty studies of the WASP ascendancy in retreat.”
In addition to “The Dining Room” (in 1990 and 2000) and “Sylvia,” other plays by A.R. Gurney produced by the Hampton Theatre Company include “Love Letters” (1994), “Later Life” (1996) and “Black Tie” (2012).
The cast of the Hampton Theatre Company revival of “Sylvia” features four HTC veterans: Amanda Griemsmann (“A Comedy of Tenors,” “Don’t Dress for Dinner”) as Sylvia; Catherine Maloney (“A Comedy of Tenors,” “The Boys Next Door”) as Kate; and George Loizides (“On Golden Pond,” “Alarms and Excursions”) in three different roles. Adding a touch of mystery, the HTC has so far offered only one clue as to the identity of the actor playing Greg, noting that the role will feature “a familiar HTC face.”
Hampton Theatre Company Artistic Director Diana Marbury directs. Set design is by Sean Marbury, lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski, sound by Seamus Naughton and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.
Because of limited seating capacity, the HTC has added two additional Saturday matinées to the regular production schedule. “Sylvia” runs at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue, from May 27 to June 13, with performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Discount tickets for “Sylvia” are available for veterans, Native Americans, seniors, patrons under 35 and students.
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