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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Thingamajig’s ‘Sylvia’ opens to rave reviews and Mazie wins dog photo contest

Photo courtesy Carole Howard
“Sylvia,” the crown jewel of Thingamajig Theatre Company’s summer season, has opened to rave reviews from audiences. Before “Sylvia” opened on June 25, the theater held a photo contest to find the canine that best represents the character of the show’s dog. There were almost 100 entries and the winner, chosen by the “Sylvia” cast, is Mazie, an Irish golden. Mazie’s portrait, painted by Thingamajig’s artist and set designer Jill Fives, appears on stage in one of the show’s scenes. Here it is displayed by Carl Morrow, who plays the man who brings Sylvia home, and Polly Seale, who plays his wife. Mazie’s family is Kirsten, Michael and Lexy Derr, who moved to Pagosa four months ago from Corrales, N.M.

By Carole Howard
Thingamajig Theatre Company

“Sylvia,” the crown jewel of Thingamajig Theatre Company’s summer season, has opened to rave reviews from audiences praising the production for its Broadway-level acting — and especially the performance of Laura Moore in the title role. 

“Sylvia” is the touching canine comedy about a dog and her new owner, a middle-aged man who brings her home to live in his apartment in New York City, much to his wife’s distress. 

Before “Sylvia” opened on June 25, the theater held a photo contest to find the perfect canine that best represents the character of the show’s dog. There were almost 100 entries and the winner is Mazie, an Irish golden retriever.

Her family is Kirsten, Michael and Lexy Derr, who moved to Pagosa four months ago from Corrales, N.M. 

“We are so excited that she won,” said Kirsten Derr. “Mazie has such a carefree, friendly nature.” 

Having heard positive reports about “Sylvia,” they had already purchased tickets to the show, so they will gift their two prize tickets to friends.

Mazie’s photo
chosen by cast

The dog contest was judged by the cast of “Sylvia.” Mazie’s portrait, painted by Thingamajig’s artist and set designer Jill Fives, appears on stage in one of the play’s scenes.

In addition to Laura Moore, three actors make up the “Sylvia” cast. Carl Morrow, who plays the man who brings Sylvia home, is known to Thingamajig audiences for his roles in “A Few Good Men,” “West Side Story,” “Legally Blonde” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Polly Seale, a new resident of Pagosa Springs with an impressive acting resume, plays his wife. And Rodney Holmes, who performed in Thingamajig’s productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Tarzan,” “The Secret Garden” and “Damn Yankees,” plays three parts in the production.

Tim Moore, the theater’s producing artistic director, directs the production. 

More on ‘Sylvia’

Back by popular demand, “Sylvia” was the highlight of Thingamajig’s first season back in 2011, when Laura Moore played the part of “Sylvia” to huge acclaim. Now she is reprising the role through Aug. 29 in honor of the theater’s 10th anniversary. 

“We have produced hundreds of shows for thousands of patrons over the past decade,” said Tim Moore. “It is ‘Sylvia’ that is brought up more often than any other show with the request that we stage an encore run.” 

A multiple Drama Desk Award-nominated comedy, A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” has been produced thousands of times on Broadway and in regional theaters. 

“And for good reason,” said Laura Moore. “It’s comedy gold with a canine touch. I am thrilled to be playing Sylvia again for our Pagosa audiences.”

Tickets available now

You can find the dates and times of “Sylvia” and order tickets for the show on the theater’s website at pagosacenter.org or by phoning (970) 731-SHOW (7469). Tickets are $35. 

Also available on the website or by phone are a limited number of tickets for Dennis Elkins’ final one-man show tomorrow, Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at $35 each. 

Thingamajig is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this summer season. 

“We can’t imagine a better way to commemorate this milestone than being able to reopen the theater with these inspiring productions after the long COVID closure,” said Tim Moore. 

Restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic required Thingamajig — like theaters around the world — to go dark on March 15, 2020. That resulted in a 15-month closure of Pagosa’s esteemed local professional theater.

Elkins featured in limited special engagement

Elkins, one of Thingamajig’s most admired artists, has returned to Pagosa to perform in the first two plays of the autobiographical trilogy he wrote, produced and performs as a one-man show.

The first is “box.,” originally performed in Pagosa to standing ovations by audiences at Thingamajig’s Playwrights Festival in 2018. It focuses on the psychological trials in our lives associated with packing and unpacking boxes. We follow Elkins through major events in his adult life including his mother’s death, his son’s overdose, coming out of the closet and leaving academia at Fort Lewis College. It is an intensely moving and intimate portrayal, even comedic at times. 

After intermission, the audience is treated to “bag—,” the second installment of Elkins’ personal trilogy. Pronounced “bag dash,” the play had readings in Ireland, workshops in various American cities, and a virtual debut at the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival under COVID conditions. This is its second in-person U.S. production after its debut at the Denver Fringe Festival a week before it came to Pagosa. 

“bag—” is based on Elkins’ trip to India in 2017 as he approached his 60th birthday. In this poignant comedy of travel and identity, Elkins crisscrosses India in hopes of uncovering the mysteries of life and middle-age, bringing along a three-item to-do list: Seek guidance and wisdom from some appropriate spirit, scatter some of his son’s ashes in some appropriate place and see the Taj Mahal — not necessarily in that order. The story showcases Elkins’ writing and acting skills as he attempts to find his future through a culture so different from his own. 

COVID guidelines
in Black Box

All of Thingamajig’s summer events take place in the theater’s Black Box under whatever COVID health guidelines are in effect at the time. The Moores are remaining flexible and nimble regarding various seating configurations and other requirements, given the ever-changing COVID environment. The actors will not be wearing masks, but they all are vaccinated.

Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round — COVID permitting, of course. 

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