Thanks to a Drexel University professor, Matthew Broderick is helping out Philly-area dogs without even coming to the region.

Broderick is the star of Sylvia, playing on Broadway at the Cort Theatre, about the intense bond between a man and his dog (who happens to be played by a woman).

Since its opening in October, the show has worked with animal welfare organizations, holding benefit performances and donating proceeds.

On Dec. 8, proceeds will go to People + Animals = Companions Together (PACT), a Gladwyne organization that finds foster homes for the dogs of people on active military duty and of families with sick children getting long-term care.

"It's the shelter or us," PACT founder Buzz Miller said from a conference on PTSD at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

A former lawyer, Miller began PACT because he "got tired of making rich people richer" and wanted to do something he really cared about.

Miller was connected to Sylvia through Brannon Wiles, an assistant professor of entertainment and arts management at Drexel - and also a producer of Sylvia. Wiles fell in love with the show after seeing it at a regional theater in 1996. He also happens to own a dog named Sylvia.

In the play, written by A.R. Gurney, Broderick plays Greg, a New Yorker who finds the titular dog (played by Tony Award-winning actress Annaleigh Ashford, who also plays former prostitute Betty in Masters of Sex) abandoned in Central Park. Greg becomes obsessed with Sylvia, much to the chagrin of his wife (Tony-winner Julie White). The show closes Jan. 3.

Through his role as producer, Wiles has been able to take 25 Drexel students to previews, where they could meet the cast and crew of the show. "Part of the reason I took a faculty position at Drexel is I'm encouraged to do professional and creative work outside of the classroom. I wasn't just coming for an academic program. I could still do things like being a producer," Wiles said. "Teaching this business in particular is about hands on. It's not about hypothetical. It's a field that lends itself very well to this."

Miller, for one, saw the play on opening night. "We were there opening night. We loved it. The crazy thing about the play is that it needs PACT because we do fostering for people who have nobody to take care of their animals," Miller said.

meichel@phillynews.com
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