MEET THE ACTORS
By A.R. Gurney
In 2008, I spent a summer enrolled in The Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula Montana. I was on assignment to photograph a dog show one afternoon, and it was there that I fell in love with a silver poodle. Upon my return to my home in Calistoga, Duchess - a poodle with Addison’s disease - became my companion. Every month she has to have a shot in order to survive, and every day of my life with her has been a blessing. She held me through my journey with my husband’s struggle and eventual death with Alzheimer’s.
Sylvia is more than a play for me. It is about what gifts animals can be for us humans. Everytime I go to Dr. Franquelin’s for Duchess’s monthly injection I read the poem framed and mounted on the wall:
“It came to me
That every time
I lose a dog
They take a piece
Of my heart with them,
And every new dog
Who comes into my life
Gifts me with a piece
Of their heart.
If I live long enough
All the components
Of my heart
Will be dog, and
I will become
As generous and
Loving as they are.”
Duchess is a healthy, spry, eleven-year-old dog.
Alexis Forni was last seen as Jane in Upstage Napa Valley's 2018 production of ‘Clever Little Lies.’ Alexis holds a degree in Film Production from Cal State Northridge. Her previous roles under the direction of her aunt, Sharie Renault include Oyster in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1986), Palace Musician in ‘Twelfth Night’ (1991) and Titania in ‘Midsummer Night's Dream” (1997).
Elizabeth Stokkebye is a writer, painter and an actor. She grew up in Denmark, in the town of HansChristian Andersen and has loved fairy tales since childhood. Elizabeth studied Henrik Ibsen's many plays for her MA in Scandinavian Languages and Literature. Previously, she performed with Upstage Napa Valley in the play ‘Almost Maine’ by John Cariani. Elizabeth is writing her novel ‘Aldhaven’ about a small town and its people. Calistoga has been her home town for thirteen years.
Fred Ireland is honored to be, once again, performing with Upstage Napa Valley. ‘Sylvia’ marks a milestone in his acting career, making this his 10th production with the company. He thanks Director, Sharie Renault for having faith in his acting ability and for casting him in challenging roles that have been life changing and have given him the opportunity to perfect his craft- an endeavor he welcomes with each new role.
Jack Stuart was last seen as Jacob Jerome in Upstage Napa Valley’s 2017 production of Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoir.’ At the White Barn, he has played Don Abrams in Dan Clancy’s ‘Quartet,’ and Frederic Chopin in ‘Letters and Music,’ a celebration of the composer and his muse, Georges Sand. Stuart also wrote and performed the narration for ‘Fritz Kreisler, the Man and his Music,’ a highlight of the White Barn’s 2010 season.
Deborah Todd began acting with Director, Sharie Renault and the Saint Helena Players by taking a workshop and then being cast in 'Stanton's Garage' and ' Night of the Iguana.’ She has been in many shows with the Pastiche Players including 'Many Pearls,’ 'Planet Vega$' and 'The First Annual Dandelion Festival.’ She also posed in Rousseau and Van Gogh tableaus at Greystone, as well as doing makeup for the Mustard Festival models. 'The Dining Room,’ 'Almost Maine,’ 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'Last Gas' were followed by stage managing shows this past year. She dedicates this performance to her brother, Terry.
‘Sylvia’ is Megan Whyte’s (Kate) debut with Upstage Napa Valley and her first time back on the stage after a 20-year hiatus. She studied English literature at Sonoma State University, where she earned her teaching credential and moved on to teach English and Drama at Santa Rosa High School. Megan loves dogs, especially her well-bred mutt, Mickey.