A Most Unrecognizable Character
Rounding out Sylvia's 4-person cast is a man who plays multiple roles in the lives of our central family: Timothy Eggert. Tim brings three distinctly different people to life (to great comic effect!). We are lucky dogs to have his attention to detail, and commitment to the characters. Read his one-on-one-on-three below!
Why did you audition for Sylvia?
I found out there was a part in the show that called for multiple roles. Secret revealed: that sort of thing really terrifies me. I look at a show like The 39 Steps, where each actor is playing a zillion roles, and I am in total awe. I have to work up the courage for a challenge like that, and had to tell myself if other actors can do a zillion - surely I can pull off three: a man, a woman, and someone whose gender is unspecified. But I had a ton of encouragement from friends, so I went for it and was very fortunate.
What's something special or new about our production that potential audiences need to know?
Well, if you’re unfamiliar with the play, surprise: the titular character is a dog played by a human! And it is amazing. Dev is fantastic as Sylvia. She’s a very physical, imaginative, and giving actor, who checks all the dog boxes without being cliché. Most of us treat our dogs as family, so the way she brings humanity to a dog may sound weird, but it comes with an endearing honesty. Sean is great as Greg, who is sort of unhinging himself from reality; as is Amanda, whose Kate moves the story forward and is also the real voice of sanity in the show. Everyone has been so fun to work with and I think that energy will translate in our performances.
Has this role challenged you or changed your thinking in any way?
It’s been quite challenging. Movement for Phyllis took some time to lock down. Walking in heels is new, as is suddenly having breasts. If you didn’t grow up with either, you have to make a slight change to your center of gravity in order to walk with any confidence or speed. But my calves are getting a great workout.
Do you have any special pet or animal adoption memories you'd like to share?
Our two dogs are both rescue animals! They are the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known. My wife’s sister found Ginger as a puppy in front of their house. She knew we wanted a dog – but we wanted one later – meaning, after we closed on a house and moved in. We agreed to “audition” the dog, and even though we were still in an apartment, she was too adorable to turn down. At the time, we thought she’d be a miniature dachshund or something, but to our surprise she turned out to be a much larger dog.
A friend found another dog a few years later, in front of a feed store next to a theatre in Conroe where my wife and I work a lot. She spotted some man shooing away a hungry puppy on the sidewalk. She rescued it and we agreed to babysit over a weekend, and once again, we couldn’t give the dog back. We named her Usagi, which is Japanese for rabbit, because she can jump really high and does this to greet people even though she’s very small. We were also watching a ton of Sailor Moon and other anime at the time.
What's something you and your character have in common?
Tom and I are both guys who love dogs, but that might be about it. I see him as someone who has to be right all the time, and whose masculinity defines him. I’m pretty secure in both those things, yet I don’t place a lot of importance in either. As for Phyllis and Leslie, they mostly come from the text and observations of others.
Something that makes you two very different?
Er… well… all my characters in this show are jerks in their own way? I hope I’m not that. I could go into detail, but I feel it would spoil some things for you.
Will Stageworks/local audiences recognize you from something else?
I played Lt. J.G. Sam Weinberg in A Few Good Men at Stageworks this past summer, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream a couple of years ago. But my roles in Sylvia are pretty different from really anything I’ve done in the past, so even if I’m remembered from those awesome shows – there’s a chance the audience will do a double take before they realize who I am. It’s kind of a badge of honor to be a chameleon in theatre, at least for me. So whenever I get any “oh wait, that was you?” kind of questions, I take it as the highest compliment.
What's a fun fact about you that might surprise our readers?
I always thought I’d be a filmmaker. I had some musical theatre training in middle school and had roles in high school plays, but my college focus was writing and directing for film. I loved the idea of making my own film projects and still do, but for whatever reason I could never find motivation after college. I just couldn’t keep momentum on projects, so it never worked out. I think I got subconscious whispers for ten or fifteen years that I was really an actor but didn’t listen to them. Then my wife pushed me to audition for shows in 2012, and I’ve been steadily cast ever since. Sometimes people are surprised to find I’ve really only been doing this for six or so years. Our family has a love/hate relationship with our acting because we’re constantly busy. And recently, I put a new layer of busy into the mix with a podcast. I host Strutting & Fretting, a local actors podcast which has already featured a lot of talent Stageworks audiences would be familiar with: Sean K. Thompson, Kristen Malisewski, Sam Martinez, Kiara Steelhammer, JT Fischer, Callen McLaughlin, Natalie Lerner, Jordan O’Neal, and Jared and Amy Barnes. You can check it out at http://struttingandfretting.blubrry.net/ and wherever fine podcasts are downloaded.
What's a fun behind-the-scenes memory from rehearsal so far?
I don’t know that I have one single memory, but in general just people breaking character in rehearsal because of something funny. We all have lines and mannerisms that sets off a scene partner, so we all must be careful. Usually if I say something to Sean or Amanda that gets them laughing, I have to clench my jaw to prevent a cascade of laughter that stops rehearsal.
That, and almost everyone being sick. I’ve been coughing since before the table read, and it’s only now starting to clear up.
Come to think of it, that happened during A Few Good Men too.
Oh, no. Am I allergic to this place?
Man, I hope not. That would bring tears.
Come see Timothy Eggert dig the plot deeper and fetch big laughs in Sylvia, at Stageworks Theatre through February 3, 2019.