Raue Center For The Arts has partnered with Helping Paws Animal Shelter for the upcoming production of “Sylvia” produced by its in-house professional theater company, Williams Street Repertory. A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia,” which opens on May 4, tells the tail – make that tale – of an unlikely love triangle between a man, his wife… and his dog.
Greg is a man of middle age, a restless empty nester, tired of his job in finance and looking for meaning in his life. Sylvia is an exuberant and beautiful lab/poodle mix, astray in Central Park and looking for a new home. When they meet, it is love at first sight. But when Greg brings Sylvia home, his wife Kate is less than thrilled. Love and laughter are unleashed in this smart, silly, sophisticated, and occasionally salty comedy about relationships and the nature growing older.
As the title role will be played by a human rather than a labradoodle in WSRep’s upcoming production, the cast and crew were in need of some canine inspiration. Helping Paws was able to provide just that, coordinating a visit with Jeffrey.
The cast and crew were thrilled to welcome the one-year-old terrier mix, who “loves to go for walks” and “carry on conversations because he has lots of stories to tell” to rehearsal. Jeffrey is one of approximately 800 animals cared for by Helping Paws each year who, like Sylvia, was looking for a new home.
“85% of the dogs that come in are from high-kill shelters. Many don’t know a loving hand or home. It is such a great opportunity to watch them blossom and find their forever homes,” says Helping Paws Director Sharon Bono-Fabian, who coordinated the visit.
Everyone at WSRep and Raue Center was thrilled to learn Jeffrey found his forever home shortly after his visit to “Sylvia” rehearsals! He has been renamed Wrigley and is now loving his new home with “two furry sisters and wonderful adoptive parents who are spoiling and loving him!”
Bono-Fabian first got involved with the shelter after her husband saw an ad in the newspaper looking for part-time dog walkers and thought it would be the perfect way for the family to give back. “Our son and I started volunteering by socializing with the shy kittens and helping them find forever homes. We then moved on to the dogs and started helping with off-site events,” she says. “It kind of spiraled from there. I wanted to get more involved and I became a board member after being at the shelter for one year.”
As part of her role on the board of directors, Bono-Fabian comes into the shelter during open hours to conduct interviews with potential adopters and aids in fundraising. She also serves as volunteer coordinator and off-site coordinator. “I help wherever needed. Many directors do things throughout the day whether at the shelter or not. It’s pretty much a 24/7 position.”
Helping Paws relies on its small, committed staff of 11 employees and over 300 dedicated volunteers to to provide shelter, food, medical care and comfort to abandoned, neglected and abused animals until they are placed into loving, responsible homes.
“I don’t think there is ever a typical day at the shelter,” laughs Bono-Fabian. “For the staff, the morning hours are spent focused on walking, cleaning and feeding the dogs. Volunteers take care of the cats in the morning hours, cleaning rooms and feeding cats.”
As a non-profit, the shelter also relies on fundraising to care for homeless animals like Jeffrey.
“We have four main fundraising events as well as smaller fundraisers throughout the year,” says Bono-Fabian. “Donations are always a plus.”
Raue Center and WSRep are proud to partner with Helping Paws to support the animals AND the arts with a night out at the theater! $7 of every ticket to “Sylvia” purchased using the code PAWS18 will be donated back to Helping Paws. Adoptable dogs from the shelter will also be in the lobby before the 8 p.m. shows on May 4 & 5! Enjoy a night out at the theater, support the animals, and maybe even find a new best friend!
WSRep’s “Sylvia” opens on May 4 and runs select dates through May 20 at Raue Center. Tickets are $35.50 or $10 for college students with a valid college ID. “Sylvia” is rated PG-13 for mild language and suggestive sexual content. For more information on “Sylvia,” visit wsrep.org and to learn more about Helping Paws, visit helpingpaws.net.