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Bethel College theater students to present "Sylvia"

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Bethel College theater students will present "Sylvia," a farce by A.R. Gurney, at 7:30 p.m., March 13, 14 and 15 in Krehbiel Auditorium, Fine Arts Center at Bethel College in North Newton. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students. For tickets, call (316) 284-5281. All seats are reserved.

The cast for the two-hour production includes only four actors, all Bethel College students. Megan G. Bartel, junior from Colorado (Colo.) Springs, will play the part of Sylvia, the dog. Ben Gundy, freshman from Bluffton, Ohio, is cast as Greg, the husband. Amy Mattson, senior from Salina, is Greg’s wife, Kate. Henry Dick, sophomore from Bloomington, Ill., will play three characters: the dog owner Tom, Kate’s best friend Phyllis, and the psychiatrist Leslie. Freshman Rachel Hetzke from Pawnee Rock is assistant director. Junior Jeffrey Graber from Newton is lighting designer.

"This is a love story about a guy and his dog," says director Brent Noel, who is assistant professor of communication arts at Bethel College. "This middle-age man finds Sylvia in Central Park and brings her home, and his wife is opposed to the idea. It’s a love triangle of sorts."

Set in New York, Greg is in a midlife crisis. He loses interest in his job, spends time with a stray dog that has given his life meaning and then is laid off. Greg rarely talks to Kate, his wife of 22 years. Sylvia, acting like both housedog and beautiful woman, comes between the couple.

The play brings to the surface the tenderness in family relationships. "Sylvia teaches the couple how to compromise. She teaches them about unconditional love and about the need for tolerance. It’s a delightful, hopeful piece about love, marriage and canine obsession," Noel says.

The play contains adult themes and strong language and may not be suitable for all audiences.

If dogs could talk

The canine star of the play "Sylvia" has a dog’s eye view that may be shared by other dogs, like those at the Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton. Caring Hands is joining together with the Bethel College Theater Department to promote "Sylvia" and the work of the local humane society. Information about Caring Hands Humane Society and ways to donate to it will be available on a table in the Fine Arts Center lobby each night of the play.

The play’s director, Brent Noel, and the cast of "Sylvia" will attend an Adopters’ Reunion at Caring Hands on March 1 to give details about the play and to interact with adopters and their dogs.

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