We all know why the little dog laughed…to see such sport, of course. And then the flatware eloped! Yes, from an early age, we memorized that wonderful nursery rhyme which describes jumping bovine and a very musically inclined kitty, but in Douglas Carter Beane’s well-written comedy yet tragedy yet slice-of-life yet definitely not a slice-of-conventional-life stage play, this little dog laughed for a very different reason.
Going to the Long Beach Playhouse is always nostalgic for me. I mean, let’s face it, the theatre has been there a while and remains successful today. What’s interesting to me about the theatre is that it feels to me as though someone scooped up the community playhouse that I myself used to perform in back in the small town of Thibodaux, Louisiana (raise your hand if you’ve been there), and transplanted that little old-world theatre smack dab in the middle of the big, bustling city of Long Beach. I love the homey, quaint feel to seeing a show there as it removes me from city life for just a couple hours, and that’s worth it!
One thing that was interesting to me about this trip to the Long Beach Playhouse is: I noticed as I walked up the slim sidewalk from the back parking lot toward the entrance there were little red doggie footprints on the ground that literally meandered their way up to the lobby and then up the stairs to the theatre where Little Dog Laughed was waiting to commence. For the life of me, I cannot remember if I’d seen them there before, or if this was a special, sneaky welcome to us all as we followed that little dog’s path to see just exactly what it was he thought was so funny.
The Little Dog Laughed is an odd show to see in an older theatre because there’s very little that is nostalgic or old-school about the show. The settings are New York and Los Angeles, two very modern, hip cities, don’t you think? The central story tells of the complicated decisions an actor must face when trying to become a household name, while at the same time holding back from the world who he is by hiding his homosexuality from his mostly female fan base. Is being gay a good thing for a young actor if he wants to make it big in Hollywood? Should he play it “straight” to please the world and his agent? Discuss amongst yourselves while I introduce the cast of characters, and the actors.
Enter Mitchell, the actor (played by Matt Landig). He’s built a name for himself and has gotten ahead of the game in Hollywood by getting on a hit series, thanks to the wonderful, fierce-tongued workings of his powerful agent, Diane (played by Lori Kelley). Things are running smoothly. Mitchell and Diane are making money. Mitchell is getting famous. Mitchell is a household name as a dashing and handsome young actor making magazine headlines. What a great career he is building for himself, and Diane couldn’t be more pleased!
Now, you know that when it comes to theatre, there is no way to leave the story that blissful! To do so would truly be tragic. Therefore, the ugly truth hidden behind all the paparazzi pandering is that Mitchell’s heart is empty and alone, unable to find meaningful love…or at least he hasn’t the option, as he has a reputation to uphold in order to remain marketable in Hollywood’s eyes. However, Diane has his back covered in many ways that often lead to the hilarity inside The Little Dog Laughed.
Then along comes Alex (played by Alexander Shewchuk), the younger, experienced hustler, and his girlfriend Ellen (played by Christina Aimerito). Much to Diane’s dismay, these two take Mitchell on a whole new path outside Mitchell’s career-mindedness and perhaps there are more important things to him than being a household name, or are there? The story continues for you all onstage, right now, at the Long Beach Playhouse.
The Little Dog Laughed will be presented at the Long Beach Playhouse in The Studio Theatre from April 28 to May 26, with matinee performances on Sundays at 2pm. Call the box office to purchase tickets at (562) 494-1014. Notice: the show does contain full frontal nudity as well as sexual situations.