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The Little Dog Laughed: And The Dish Ran Away With The Play

Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed is certainly the most explosively funny, deliciously dirt-filled satire to hit Broadway in many a season, but only when Julie White is on stage.  Few can match Beane when it comes to writing hilarious material spoofing the inside workings of show business and the arts and as Diane, the lesbian Hollywood agent desperately trying to keep her hunky leading man client in the closet, White is a destructive hurricane of chic and cynical deviousness, leaving the carnage of Tinseltown mores in her path of perfectly timed one-liners. 

But although Diane is the glamour role in this piece and White certainly gives it a star turn in director Scott Ellis' sleek production, she is not the main focus of the plot, or any empathy that might come out of the plot.  Her castmates all give fine performances, but their material isn't anywhere near as interesting, and as the play saunters into Act II you may very well find yourself wondering when the hell she's coming back during her absent moments. 

Set designer Allen Moyer places an enormous mobile over the audience depicting characters from the nursery rhyme where the play gets its title, suggesting the film industry is one big playpen.  As the story goes, Diane serves as agent and occasional beard for rising star Mitchell (Tom Everett Scott) who she says, "suffers from a slight recurring case of homosexuality."  While in New York, securing the film rights for a play in which he will do the most daring thing a supposedly straight Hollywood actor can do, play a gay romantic lead (The line Beane writes as Diane's reaction when the playwright asks for her word that the character remains homosexual in the film should be emblazoned on every t-shirt, coffee mug and souvenir button the producers can get their hands on.), Mitchell starts developing feelings for Alex (Johnny Galecki), the rent-a-boy an agency sends to his hotel room on a lonely night.  The feeling is mutual for Alex, which brings up complications with his pregnant party-hopping girlfriend, Ellen (Ari Graynor). 

Scott and especially Galecki are very sweet as the tentative lovers and Graynor hits her own comic bulls-eyes as the material girl caught on the wrong end of the red velvet ("I miss V.I.P. rooms.  I want glass separating me from others, I really do.")  but their scenes are too lightweight to stand up to White, who is spoon-fed the juiciest barbs ("A writer with final cut?  I'd rather give fire arms to small children.") and devours them whole without making a wrinkle in costume designer Jeff Mahshie's smart ensembles. 


Photos by Carol Rosegg:  Top:  Julie White

Center:  Johnny Galecki and Ari Graynor

Bottom:  Johnny Galecki and Tom Everett Scott

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From This Author Michael Dale