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Photo Flash: First Look at Ryan McCartan in MUTT HOUSE at Kirk Douglas Theatre


Ryan McCartan (recent Fox remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie, Off-Broadway's Heathers: The Musical) will head the cast of a fun and furry musical tale for animal lovers of all ages. The world premiereof Mutt House will play at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City from July 15 through Aug. 5. Previews begin July 10.

McCartan will star as quirky outsider Eddie Corbin. Bullied all his life, Eddie has finally found a place to call home in a neglected downtown animal shelter. When the city threatens to close the shelter, Eddie must do something he's never done before - stand up for himself and fight for what's right. With the help of six zany mutts, he faces his fears and makes an unexpected human connection in the process.

Created and written by Tony Cookson, Mutt House features 18 original songs with music and lyrics by John Daniel, Tony Cookson, Robb Curtis Brown and David O, including titles like "When He Sniffs Me," "I'm Lying Here (Scratch Me)" and "When You Hear Barking, I Hear Words Instead." Director Ryan Bergmann (Die, Mommie, Die! at the Celebration Theatre and Kirk Douglas Theatre), music director Anthony Lucca and choreographer Janet Roston are at the helm.

The shelter's resident pooches include a cool, salsa-dancing Chihuahua named Pepe, played by Grammy Award-winning musician Gabriel González (smoking hot salsa bands Boogaloo Assassins and La Verdad); a loyal-to-the-bone mutt who goes by the name of Donna, portrayed byAmanda Leigh Jerry (Once at South Coast Rep, Carousel at Musical Theatre West); a haughty French Poodle qui s'appelle Sophie, personified byValerie Larsen (Frozen-Live at the Hyperion at Disneyland California Adventure); a rambunctious pit bull who answers to Bradley, played byGarrett Marshall (the Beast in Beauty and the Beast at MTW, Carrie: The Musical at La Mirada and Los Angeles Theater); a handsome Lab mix named Digger, embodied by Ben Palacios (Prince Hans in Disney's Frozen); and a pudgy Corgi called Max, played by Max Wilcox (Gigantic off-Broadway, recurring on Glee). Rounding out the cast of characters are Claire Adams (title role in Violet at Actors Co-op, Incognito at the Rubicon) as Eddie's love interest, Hannah; Boise Holmes (NAACP and Ovation Award winner for When Jazz Had the Blues at the Matrix, German and Hong Kong productions of Disney's The Lion King) as Gerry, manager of the embattled shelter; and Heather Olt (The Max Factor Factor at Celebration Theatre, Runaways on Hulu) in a variety of roles including town mayor.

"The idea for this literally came to me in a dream," laughs Cookson, a dog lover whose many rescues have included a "border sporgie" (border collie and corgie mix) named Lulu and a Chihuahua-terror mix named Minnie. "I saw singing dogs in an animal shelter, and started writing the next morning. It was kind of a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney 'let's put on a show' moment."

According to producer Christopher Sepulveda, whose credits include Broadway productions of An American in Paris and Deaf West's Spring Awakening (which got its start at L.A.'s Inner-City Arts and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills), "Beyond the loveable characters, witty dialog and catchy tunes, of which there are plenty, it's the heartwarming, positive message that I believe truly makes Mutt House sing. Dealing with universal issues in an inventive, fun and relatable way, Mutt House reminds us that even those who seem or feel lost can eventually be found with a little help from a four-legged friend. Of all the wonderful new work currently being developed in Los Angeles, I don't know of another musical that approaches this scale and style."

The multiple award-winning creative team for Mutt House includes scenic designer Stephen Gifford, lighting designer Matthew Brian Denman, sound designer Cricket S. Myers, costume designer Allison Dillard, prop master Michael O'Hara and production stage manager Mercedes Clanton. Casting is by Michael Donovan.

The son of actor, singer and producer Peter Cookson and Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actress Beatrice Straight, Tony Cookson's writing credits include the critically acclaimed short film Ringers, selected to the New Directors Series sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center, and the full-length feature films And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird and Love Happens starring Megan Price (Rules of Engagement) and Ken Marino (Wander Lust). He has two films currently in development: The Package, an action comedy starring Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans, Sons of Anarchy) set to film in Spring 2019, and a big budget holiday film. This is his first musical.

Mutt House: The Musical opens for press on Sunday, July 15 and continues through Aug. 5, with performances on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.;Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Preview performances take place July 10-14. Tickets range from $39 - $59. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. Parking is free underneath Culver City City Hall with validation: enter on Duquesne, just south of Culver Blvd. To purchase tickets and for more information, call213-628-2772 or

Photo Credit: Daren Scott

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