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Calling all dogs — the center wants your pet

Dogs, dogs, dogs.

Do you have one that you adore? Well, if so, Thingamajig Theatre Company would like to borrow yours for a while. Or a photo of your dog at least.

We are looking for a dog that can master being beautiful, soulful and mischievous all in one photo to star in our upcoming live theater production of “Sylvia,” which opens June 24 and runs through July 17 at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

The chosen dog will win two tickets for its owners to enjoy the hilarious comedy about a man, the dog who adopts him and his less than thrilled wife. Or, if you are an artist and the dog that you adore is a work of art, the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts is issuing an open call to artists to fill the walls of their 7,000 square-foot gallery with pieces for their upcoming art show, “A Dog’s Life.” Artists can bring in their work on June 12 from 2-6 p.m. and June 13 from 4-7 p.m. All mediums, including photography and small craft works, are encouraged for this show.

‘Sylvia’

AR Gurney is a master of delightful comedies and “Sylvia,” which starred Sarah Jessica Parker when it opened on Broadway, is one of his biggest crowd pleasers, partly for obvious reasons — being about man’s best friend. But also because it’s purely delightful, very funny, beautifully written, and is about the themes in life that never get stale: keeping a long-term marriage together, keeping boredom at bay, searching for that elusive thing called happiness, and ultimately connecting and being heard.

 I( Laura Moore) play Sylvia, the sassy and endearing stray dog Greg (Tim Moore) finds abandoned in New York’s Central Park and brings home to the chagrin of his wife Kate (Lizz Baldwin). Thingamajig Theatre is proud to announce the Pagosa Springs debut of one of Denver gifted comedic actors, Robin Hebert who performs three humorous roles: Tom — a guy’s guy who befriends Greg in the park while Sylvia plays, and later does the deed, with his dog Bowser; Phyllis, Kate’s socialite friend, who lends Kate her ear as she becomes increasingly jealous of Sylvia, admitting, “I think I hate Sylvia — I never thought I could hate anyone but Nixon;” and Leslie, the over-the-top androgynous psychotherapist who counsels Greg and Kate.

 People have asked me several times after they heard that I was playing a dog in the upcoming show, if I will be dress up in a dog costume, with ears, fur and a tail. The answer is no. The genius in “Sylvia” is that Gurney wrote it for the actor to appear human, not wearing a dog costume, which not only leaves more up to our imaginations, but because we personify our pets, seeing Sylvia as an actual woman, acting like a dog, makes us see her relationship with Greg and Kate on a deeper, psychological level, and also brings out the absurdities in the ways we relate to our canine friends. As Sylvia and Greg become more like lovers than pet and owner, sexy skirts and high heels replace Sylvia’s shorts and kneepads.

 Greg is unhappy in a job that has become increasingly more abstract and less hands-on and Sylvia comes along just when he needs something real, something tangible that gives his life purpose. Kate, on the other hand is finally able to seriously pursue a teaching career with the last kid off to college and doesn’t want the responsibilities of dog ownership now that she finally has her freedom.

 Greg and Kate become polarized over Sylvia, unable to compromise.

 “You’ve managed to chew a huge hole in a 17-year-old marriage,” Kate says to Sylvia, whom she purposely-accidentally calls Saliva, unable to offer Greg the same unconditional love he gets from his new dog. But ultimately the couples’ love and long-term commitment overcomes their self-interest and when they start to give and get what they need from one another, Sylvia’s role in their lives is gently put into perspective.

“Sylvia” is a frolicking tour de force and a great lesson in what we can learn from our dogs about ourselves. And you will probably never look at your dog the same way again after you see this play.

Tickets are available on the website www.pagosacenter.org or by calling 731-SHOW. Shows run Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The doors to the gallery and box office are open hours before show time and coming early for a show is highly encouraged to enjoy the gallery, live music and a glass of wine or perhaps the show drink — a “Salty Dog.”

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