*This story was featured in The Collegian on Nov. 11 and on HCMediaOnline on Nov. 12.
On Nov. 13 the Hastings Community Theatre (HCT) presents “Sylvia”. “Sylvia,” a humorous and thought-provoking comedy currently showing on Broadway, features local talent and a unique combination dinner and theatre experience at both the Lochland Country Club and Hastings Community Theatre.
The comedy features Margaret Marsh as Sylvia, a stray poodle mix who adopts Greg (Ed Jarmer) in a New York city park and proceeds to follow him home, where she meets Greg’s less than ecstatic wife Katie (Connie Sheehy). Hastings Community Theatre veteran performers Cheryl Aubery and Jesse Nielsen complete the cast.
The thought of bringing the critically acclaimed play to Hastings was in the works for quite sometime, says director Roger Doerr. “My wife and I saw Sylvia produced in Aspen, Colo. in the late 90’s, and it left a real impression on us. We just loved the show,” Doerr said. “The thought crossed my mind that someday, if I ever got the opportunity to do the show, I would jump at it. It’s a long-held dream of mine to do this particular show.”
The idea of a show being performed simultaneously while being performed on Broadway isn’t a totally foreign concept, but is rare according to HCT staff. Despite the presumed pressure of performing a show while it currently runs on Broadway, the cast is looking at it from a different perspective.
“It’s an honor. It’s very rare to see a community theater putting on a presentation the same time that there’s actually a Broadway run of a show,” Jarmer said. “The fact that is something being talked about might create a little buzz at the local level, so it’s exciting.”
The buzz created by attempting to perform a current Broadway masterpiece isn’t the only buzz surrounding HCT’s version of Sylvia. Marsh and her portrayal of Sylvia the dog are also at the forefront of discussion leading up to Nov. 13.
“Margaret has been amazing with all of the dog behaviors that she puts on stage. I think she does something a little different every rehearsal,” Jarmer said. “I think she will do some different things at every performance, so that has kept us on our toes.”
Marsh has taken some very proactive steps to prepare for her upcoming role, including working with Heartland Pet Connection to master her dog mannerisms.
“As a dog, I’ve actually started doing a lot of yoga. I started doing that about two months ago to be a little bit flexible, because dogs are more flexible than I am,” Marsh said. “It’s just fun being a dog. I get to really be uninhibited, and I get to do things that I normally don’t get to do to people. I get to be bad, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Doerr encourages members of the community to attend the event because of the unique experience live theater brings.
“The one thing theater still has that you can’t get through Netflix or going to a local movie is that personal experience and that intimacy between the actor and the audience,” Doerr said. “It’s very close and very real and should have a very significant impact.”
Even before the first performance, Doerr believes this comedy will be very special.
“When you bring all of the elements together you just have to sit back and say, ‘wow, this is going to be pretty darn good.’”