The opening of Sylvia was triumphant in many ways. When the Quogue Community Hall lights dimmed and the stage lights went on, live, on stage theater with an audience was back on the East End. The Hampton Theatre Company’s production of Sylvia, first scheduled for March 2020, was finally being performed, a year later. The Diana Marbury smartly directed production had the scaled down, safely spaced audience laughing, applauding, and totally entertained. The show is a collection of superb performances from the whole cast, and is a success artistically, socially, and emotionally!
To review this show properly, one must start with Amanda Griemsmann, the actress who portrays the dog, “Sylvia.” She is fantastic. Her movements, her energy, facial expressions, her total stage presence, along with a loud, clear delivery of her lines (brilliantly crafted by playwright A.R. Gurney) earned her all the applause, kudos, and accolades from the opening weekend audience. Her performance alone makes this production of the show worth seeing.
However, that is not in any way to diminish the rest of the cast, because they all deliver stand up and cheer performances. Edward Kase, who plays “Greg,” touches the inner core of the hard-working career man who at some point questions his job, his life, his marriage, the relevance of his very existence, only to have a lost dog come along and change the trajectory of his life in a most positive way. Kase delivers on stage a meaningful, effective, and skillful performance. He owns the stage. He sparkles.
Catherine Maloney, an East End favorite and wonderful actress, plays Greg’s wife, “Kate.” Again, Maloney demonstrates why the East End theater community loves her. Her performance is warm, yet strong, poignant, articulate, and effective.
Lastly, there is George Loizides, whose performance in this production clearly demonstrates the scope and boundaries of acting. He plays, with a great nuanced skill, a man walking his dog. Then he reappears on stage in an off the chart’s hilarious appearance of a well healed elderly NYC matron, “Phyllis.” The audience was hysterical. Finally, he totally stretches the boundaries of acting by playing “Leslie,” a marriage counselor who is gender fluid. Again, the audience eats up this performance yet again.
One does not review a Hampton Theatre Company show without mentioning the skill and beauty of a Sean Marbury designed set. He always has a new wrinkle or two. This time, it’s a 3D window that somehow changes throughout the show. He has an amazing talent designing sets for this stage.
Finally, there is Diana Marbury, who besides being the director of this show, is the brick and mortar of the long-term success of the Hampton Theatre Company. Her classy signature is somehow wonderfully on every production. Her wit, theater wisdom and vision is an intangible treasure that propels all her shows to that totally successful theater experience level. With this show, Marbury comes through with stars and whistles.
Sylvia will open on Thursday, May 27 and run through Sunday, June 13. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, range from $10 to $30. Performances will be held on Thursdays and Fridays at 7:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Quogue Community Hall is located at 125 Jessup Avenue in Quogue. For more information, visit www.hamptontheatre.org.