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Tooley featured in Gordon College play, 'Sylvia'

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Kate Tooley believes her theatrical talents have been validated. She is set to star, this fall, in an ensemble cast of A. R. Gurney's stage play, "Sylvia."

"It's been fantastic," said Tooley, of Hampton. "It's been a really incredible experience."

The 22-year-old acknowledged she has had little experience in community theater. A sophomore at Gordon College, Tooley recently discovered acting as one of her major passions. She first started acting, performing small roles in various Gordon College theater productions, about a year ago.

"It's just a completely different experience," she said. "Once I'm up there, it stops being about a script, or a play. It's about inhabiting someone else's body. Theater is really my passion. It's what I really love to do," she said. "I enjoy the entire process. It's kind of what keeps me sane."

Earlier this year, Tooley auditioned for a part in the four-member ensemble of "Sylvia." She plays the role of Kate, who is the other half of a 22-year marriage suffering from empty-nest syndrome.

Tooley said the play revolves around Kate and her husband, Greg, who live in Manhattan, N.Y., as they begin to take different paths, before the dog they call Sylvia enters their lives.

"I relate to her [Kate] in a lot of ways," she said. "She is very determined."

Tooley said the character, Greg, played by Jonathan Dorsey, finds Sylvia, played by Amanda Mills, and initially seems to use the dog as a substitute for his wife and his kids, who have left home.

"I auditioned for the play, because it really hit me when I read it," Tooley added. "It's a light comedy ... but there is a lot of very interesting psychology. There is always a subtext. Anyone who has ever had a pet, or has been in a relationship can identify with it," she said. "It is incredibly funny, but it is also a very touching play."

The fourth member of the ensemble, Rico Jackson, appears in multiple roles. Tooley said he provides an almost obscure comic relief to the play in the roles of Phyllis, Tom and Leslie.

"We have a really fantastic director, who has made this a once-in-a-lifetime experience," added Tooley, speaking about the director, Rhonda Wooley, an assistant professor of theater at Gordon College.

"It was so heartwarming, and I fell in love with it," said Wooley. "I wanted to open this season with something light and entertaining, and 'Sylvia' was the perfect fit. Things come together wonderfully and touchingly in the end."

Wooley noted, however, that the play is for mature audiences, due to language.

Performances are scheduled for Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 3, at 2 p.m., in the Gordon College Fine Arts Auditorium, located on the Gordon College campus in Barnesville, Ga.

Tickets are available at the door, and cost $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $5 for children, and $4 each for groups of 10 or more.