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University of Iowa News Release

June 18, 2004

Gurney's 'Sylvia' Is Unleashed At Iowa Summer Rep July 1

The "dog days" of summer will come early this year, when Iowa Summer Rep unleashes "Sylvia," A.R. Gurney's clever canine fantasy about mid-life crisis, at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 1, in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Additional performances by the UI's professional Actors Equity company will be at 8 p.m. July 2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21 and 22.

Kate and Greg -- played by Equity actors Kristen Behrendt and Mark Ulrich -- are Upper East Side empty-nesters headed in opposite directions: He is losing interest in his increasingly unsatisfying career just as she is optimistically plunging back into the professional world.

Imbalance escalates into conflict when Greg brings home a flirtatious stray mutt whose collar identifies her as "Sylvia." Soon Kate and Sylvia are vigorously vying for Greg's attention and affection.

What makes this plot both pointed and hilarious is that Sylvia is portrayed not by a dog but by a vivacious young woman -- Sarah Jessica Parker originated the role in New York, and recent UI Department of Theatre Arts graduate Emily Happe (left) is Iowa Summer Rep's Sylvia.

This precocious, street-smart poodle/lab mix not only talks back when spoken to, but also quotes Homer and sings Cole Porter -- making her a formidable "other woman" in one of the most unusual romantic triangles in the history of theater.

Director John Cameron, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts, said, "I think the delight of 'Sylvia' comes from its ambiguity. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the lovely, flirtatious girl on stage is actually a dog. The constant rediscovery is what give the play such charm."

Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep production of "Sylvia" include scene designer Edward Matthew Walter, costume designer Lindsay Stang, lighting designer Bryon Winn and sound designer William Barbour. UI faculty member Eric Forsythe is the artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep.

In addition to "Sylvia," Iowa Summer Rep's festival of Gurney comedies is producing:
-- "The Dining Room," the Pulitzer Prize-nominated comedy set in the traditional gathering place of the American family;
-- the warm-hearted World War II coming-of-age play "What I Did Last Summer"; and
-- a staged reading of Gurney's best-known and most widely-produced play, "Love Letters."

Again this season, Iowa Summer Rep evening performances will be accompanied by the popular "Dinner on the Patio" fare, with casual seating overlooking the Iowa River. Dinner reservations, which are strongly encouraged, can be made by calling 319-335-3105

Individual Summer Rep tickets are $20 ($10 for UI students and youth, and $15 for senior citizens). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available to the Theatre Building box office one hour before curtain time. Parking in the Theatre Building and Hancher lots is free.

Summer Rep subscriptions, which include tickets to all three main productions, are $48 ($24 for UI students and youth, and $36 for senior citizens). Series subscriptions will remain available until "The Dining Room" closes with its July 11 performance.

Hancher Auditorium summer box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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