The Lake arts community is honored to have a local celebrity in their midst. Sylvia Thompson originally from Sedalia, has made her home at the Lake of the Ozarks for more than twenty years. A local celebrity, Sylvia is truly renowned for her affiliations with arts groups at the Lake.
She is a member of the 1931 Troupe that performs for the Oma and Noma Days in the spring and has an evening of ghost and other scary tales for Halloween. She will be the featured reader performing in "Ozark Ghost Stories and Other Scary Tales" on October 28, 2011, at The White House on the Lake Ozark Strip with the 1931 Troupe.
Ms. Thompson has graced many Lake area stages since she relocated here in 1990. She has performed on-stage as an actress, back stage as a director or assistant director, with the musicians for the musicals, and assisted in the box office with tickets and in whatever capacity she was needed. It is her personal appearance on-stage that makes her a recognizable celebrity throughout the area. Ms. Thompson related after her performance as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly (1998), she was at Wal-Mart’s deli counter placing her order. The clerk instantly recognized Sylvia from the production and proceeded to let Sylvia know how much she loved the show. Sylvia acknowledges that certain roles such as Dolly are remembered by the audience long after the stage is struck and the costumes are recycled for the next production. Ms. Thompson has always felt that, “it is important for me that we not be exclusive. Arts are to be enjoyed by everybody.”
Ms. Thompson had her beginnings with the arts when she was a child. She started taking piano lessons when she was six, took up the flute at ten, and added voice lessons around age 14. Her first acting experience occurred when she performed in the school Christmas program when she was in second grade. The theater bug bit hard, and she was hooked. She created characters such as a gun moll, a beauty queen, and a secretary with a toy telephone that she developed over the years. Ms. Thompson looks at theater as a way to getting to be somebody you’re not. Theater lets you do things you would never dream of doing in real life. Truly a world of fantasy.
Sylvia performed in the various bands in high school and fondly remembers one of her junior high theater productions of “Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” in which she played the character Snoddy. Her formal education in the arts continued after high school at William Woods College in Fulton, Missouri. She returned to Sedalia and attended State Fair Community College in the theater department. She has taken her love for the theater and arts in general and given back by participating on various arts boards in central Missouri. She was on the Scott Joplin Board in Sedalia, and became the first paid administrator for the Scott Joplin Festival. Sylvia served on the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies Board (MACAA) in Sedalia.
Ms. Thompson continued her love of the arts when she relocated to the Lake serving on the Board of Directors of the Lake Area Performing Arts Guild. Her desire to instill that love of the arts in our youth was brought to fruition when she assisted with the Dramateers through LAPAG. She continues to nurture the youth of our area with her support as a major sponsor of the Missoula Children’s Theater through the Lake Arts Council. Their summer performance enables our young people to experience a full production from audition and casting through performance with full costumes and music in a week. It is truly a sight to behold and enjoy.
Her current projects include continuing her work with Goddess Productions for which she is a founding member and Executive Producer, and with The Power of One. Goddess Productions has performed various productions here at the Lake with the purpose of profits to be for the benefit of abused women and children. The Power of One’s purpose is one person can make a difference in the world. In conjunction with The Power of One, each winter Sylvia travels to the Far East to Thailand to work with young people. The group works with an elementary school close to the Burmese border to rehabilitate and upgrade the facility. Sylvia is an adult mentor who utilizes her background in theater to organize a production with the participating youth both locally and from around the world. She casts, directs and emcees the production. For the 2011 event, there were participants from the United States, Canada, England, Thailand, Mexico, and South Africa. The program has been so well received that they will be expanding it to have a program in South Africa for 2012.
Ms. Thompson’s local philanthropy is found at the Thompson O’Sullivan Studio Theater on the campus of State Fair Community College in Sedalia. She is the principal donor for an 88-seat black box theater which will have its grand opening on October 6, 2011, with the production of “Honus and Me.” Black box theater is an intimate setting between actors and audience. The scenery is minimal with smaller casts of ten or less. Because of the more intimate setting, experimental plays can be tested and presented along with the more standard productions.
Ms. Thompson has performed in front of audiences numbering from 50 to 500 to 2000 and in venues of every nature and kind for literally most of her life. Sylvia summed up her life in the theater by stating, “People come up to me and say, ‘You look like you are having so much fun up there.’ And I am. I love performing.”
Ms. Thompson’s credits include performing on both U.S. coasts as well as all over the United States and six foreign countries. In addition to the United States, she has performed in Thailand, Bali, Italy, Greece, Egypt, England, and Canada. In Missouri, she has performed here at the Lake of the Ozarks with LAPAG, with the Royal Theater in Versailles, in Jefferson City, and, of course, with her roots in Sedalia. She will be continuing that legacy in late winter 2012 with a Terrence McNally musical which opens March 1, 2012. The performances will be at the Sedalia Community Theater at the Liberty Center.