Sylvia – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Many men, as they approach middle age, long to recapture their youth by buying a fire engine red sports car. But midlife crises don’t affect every gentleman in the same manner, as noted with Greg who goes in a totally different direction as he approaches that difficult age. If there were an eleventh commandment, Greg might entitle it to read: Thou shalt own a dog. Where else might one find such devotion, fidelity, companionship, comfort and unconditional love wrapped up in one furry package with a tail, wet nose and optional fleas?

For middle-aged and mild mannered Greg, finding a part poodle, part lab in Central Park, with the dog tag Sylvia, coincides with a mental and emotional crisis he is facing. No longer enamored with his job, in an empty nest marriage with the children grown and flying free and his wife enthusiastically starting a new career teaching Shakespeare to middle school students, Greg is ripe for a new direction in life.

Instead of a red convertible, taking up golf or karate, he seeks affection in an adorable four-footed ball of fluff. Watch how delightfully A. R. Gurney propels humor and wit into the fray in “Sylvia” settling in at Norwalk’s Music Theatre of Connecticut weekends until Sunday, February 23. You don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy the antics Sylvia brings to the couch or the Manhattan apartment where Greg resides with his wife Kate of twenty plus years.

While Bethany Fitzgerald’s Sylvia makes herself very much at home on the off limits living room sofa, cuddling up to her new god in the person of Dennis Holland’s Greg who rescued her, the odd person out, Greg’s wife Kate, Carole Dell’Aquila, is less than thrilled with the new threesome. It’s as if Greg invited a mistress into their home because Fitzgerald as the adorable Sylvia, referred to by Kate disdainfully as “Saliva,” provides Greg with oodles of drooling affection, wiggles and wags galore and charming conversation.

Completing the talented cast is a versatile Jim Schilling who provides a trio of great foils for the pooch to relate to, annoy and attack. Kevin Connors as director keeps the funny fur flying as Sylvia launches herself into the family fray with fervor, friendliness and an occasional foul f-letter word.

For tickets ($35-65), call Music Theatre of CT, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Bright Beginnings) at 203-454-3883 or online at Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A special event to benefit “PAWS,”a local animal non-profit, will take place on Friday, February 21 with 15% of ticket sales being donated to support their amazing cause!

Let Sylvia of the limpid eyes and frisky tail seduce you, just as she does Greg, putting him squarely in the doghouse, with Kate firmly holding the leash. It’s bow-wow wonderful!