Rarely do we Hoosiers get a chance to see something fresh from Broadway. New plays tend to make their way from the New York stage across the country slowly. They typically trickle through a dozen other states before making their way to Indianapolis.
'The Little Dog Laughed' is an exception to this trend. It's now on stage at the Phoenix Theatre, it's very first show since Broadway. The play premiered on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for the 2007 Best Play Tony award. That being said the show is definitely not for everyone. Accolades aside the show has very adult themes and contains some nudity.
The comedy gives the audience and glimpse into the life of a Hollywood movie star who is a closeted homosexual. Mitchell Green, excellently played by Michael Shelton, has a career dependent on his ability to appeal to women, as his agent Diane so frequently reminds him. His story is a fictional representation of the many stars that have dealt with the same dilemma, including 1950s screen heartthrob Rock Hudson.
The character of Green's agent Diane, a role that just earned Julie White the 2007 Tony award for Best Actress in a play, is the best part of the show. Megan McKinney plays the fast talking, no nonsense agent with the perfect balance of sincerity and unfettered ambition.
Her dialogue is peppered with Karen Walker-style insults (from Will & Grace) and her killer one liners leave audiences guffawing with their stinging humor.
She's the puppet master of the show and she wears her power suits with a confidence that leaves her enemies and rivals shaking in their Manolo Blahniks and Armani suits. The woman has a heart, but you won't find it anywhere near her sleeve.
Ellen, played by Joanne Dubach, is a little easier to read, but just as tough. The young woman is inadvertently caught up in the movie star's drama and struggles to find her footing as her world begins to crumble.
Chris Roe, in the role of Ellen's boyfriend Alex, catches Green's eye and in doing so knocks over the first domino in a series of complications. His sweet demeanor and childlike enthusiasm are infectious and the audience can't help but hope he ends up happy.
The four person cast works well together, each one adding a bit of humor and a lot of heart.
For experimental theater goers looking for something new and different this show is perfect. It's a taste of Broadway dumped in the Midwest. So if you've always wanted to know what the hype is all about for those New York stages make sure you check this out.
Performances: "The Little Dog Laughed" closed July 22, 2007.