Sylvia's Real Good Advice | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sylvia's Real Good Advice 

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She sits like a sarcastic Buddha and struts like a rock star, tartly dispensing strategies for survival to a legion of lovelorn loonies, presumptuous pets, demanding daughters, mischievous aliens, and even a self-pitying Satan. She's the heroine of Nicole Hollander's popular syndicated comic strip Sylvia, brought to brassy, kicking life in a splendidly juicy performance by Carole Gutierrez. Newly relocated from Pegasus Players to the Organic Theater in a commercial transfer, this musical comedy by Hollander, Arnold Aprill, Tom Mula, Cheri Coons, and Steve Rashid preserves the grouchy satire and mocking anticonformity of its source while offering a bright, imaginative visual substitute for the strip's dark density in Thomas M. Ryan's set and Claudia Boddy's costumes. A four-man band plays Steve Rashid's bouncy jazz-rock score with zest, and there are some standout solos among the supporting cast--from Carolynne Warren as a gum-chewing goofball redeemed by "Alien Love," Patrick Towne as a macho man trying to be sensitive, John Bonny as a diminutive and dejected devil who doesn't get his due, Lynn Baber as a woman held hostage by her house cats, and Skip Griparis as the gentle roughneck owner of Harry's Bar. But it's Gutierrez--her bossy baritone bark, big-mama strut, and split-second comic timing evoking a cross between Cher and Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame--who makes this show a frisky, exhilarating delight. At the Organic Theater Company, through July 14. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 6:30 and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $24.50-$28.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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