“The Little Dog Laughed”-
And He Had Every Reason To!
“…And the dish ran away with the spoon” completes the nursery rhyme couplet that Douglas Carter Beane uses for the title of his hilarious farce about the entertainment business soon to open at the Cort Theatre. And you would be absolutely crazy not to run like hell to get tickets for what may be one of the funniest shows of this or any Broadway season in recent memory.
Moving from a successful run at Second Stage earlier this year, “The Little Dog Laughed” lampoons talent agents, their would–be emerging stars, The Broadway system, the Hollywood system, homosexuals, heterosexuals, bi-sexuals, and everybody in between. They may not have ridiculed cloistered nuns, but I was laughing so hard something may have slipped by me. Thematically, it seems to take aim at anyone or any structure that tries to use their power to manipulate other people. The nursery rhyme underscores the pointless, often ridiculous machination And in the entertainment industry of Broadway/New York, that covers a lot of territory. And so does Mr. Beane.
On a pink/orange stage of sliding panels with a proscenium arch of gold party chairs (brilliantly crafted by Allen Moyer), we meet our narrator/deus ex machina talent agent, Diane, brilliantly played by Julie White. She regales us with the trials and tribulations of promoting a sexually confused, emerging stud of a star, Mitchell, (Tom Everett Scott), who is a closeted gay man. Mitchell has just received an award and has celebrated by announcing publicly his love for his agent and by privately getting drunk and hiring a rent boy lover, Alex (Johnny Galecki). Alex has an ongoing heterosexual relationship with Ellen (Ari Graynor) who has just been dumped by her elderly “Sugar Daddy.” Most of the action takes place on or around a large sliding double bed (which neatly appears and disappears into the panels), which aptly symbolizes the goal of the various characters. The agent wants the star to option a new play about a gay couple (but they’ll fix that in the rewrite). The star can’t decide if he’s gay or straight (but he’ll figure that out given enough time with the male prostitute). The male prostitute has a girl friend but he may be in love with the star (which he’ll figure out if the star will stay in New York and not go to Hollywood to make the agent’s movie). And the girl friend who has just been dumped by her sugar daddy may or may not be pregnant by the rent boy (a problem to be solved by Mitchell’s agent.
Scott Ellis directs this cross between a modern comedy of manners and a Feydeau farce with energy, speed and the vigor that emulates the high-speed world of modern American entertainment. But it’s the company that carries off the split second timing, the comic reversals, and the break neck pace. Somehow in all the shenanigans, one empathizes with each of them - from Ms. White’s ballistically emphatic wheeler-dealer agent to Mr. Scott’s charmingly confused actor, from Mr. Galecki’s “metro- sexual” rent boy to Ms. Graynor’s “after hours” club girl. As in all good farce, they get what they want and not what they deserve and happily they do. There are several likely Tony nominations in this production so do not wait or …the plate will run away with the spoon.
Performance Schedule: Tuesday - Saturday @
; Wednesday and Saturday @
; Sunday @
Tickets: Pricing: $26.25 - $96.25
Box Office: Tele-charge: (212) 239-6200; Outside NY: (800) 432-7250