To come out or not come out? Satiric comedy explores options
Small Axe Theatre is presenting the Rhode Island premiere of "The Little Dog Laughed," the Tony-Award nominated comedy written by Douglas Carter Beane, and directed by TJ Curran, who founded the theater company.
Beane’s other plays include "The Country Club" and the popular comedy "As Bees in Honey Drown." Beane also wrote the book for "Xanadu,’ a stage musical adaptation of the 1980s film of the same name. The musical opened on Broadway in 2007. Beane was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.
To come out or not come out?
"The Little Dog Laughed" looks at a thorny issue facing Hollywood celebrities these days, that is to come out or not come out? Its protagonist Mitchell is a gay movie star. His agent, Diane, wants him to stay in the closet at the risk of his career. He is also getting a little too close to Alex, a high-class escort he’s employed. Plus, Alex’s best friend, Ellen, is about to make things a lot more complicated.
The Small Axe Theatre production features Joanne Fayan (2nd Story Theatre’s "Auntie Mame," "The Miracle Worker"), Heidi Beckmann (Theatre by the Sea’s "The Full Monty"), Kevin Broccoli (Elemental Theatre’s "Go Go Plays," 2nd Story Theatre’s "Nuts") and Adam Vargulish.
"The goal of the theatre company is to find a new audience for theatre," explained
Curran, who previously directed "Othello" at India Point Park in Providence.
Curran had never heard of the play until Broccoli (who plays Mitchell) brought it to his attention.
"I saw it in New York when it first premiered," Broccoli told EDGE. "I thought it was very smart, very funny."
Broccoli also was enthusiastic about bringing a show dealing with gay issues to Rhode Island audiences.
"I think it will make them question celebrity, it will make them question what they see on the television and the news about movie stars," noted Broccoli. "I think it’s especially appropriate with everything that’s going on with people’s marriages in the news."
Curran hopes to attract audiences who don’t usually attend the theatre, namely professional working people in their 30 and 40s.
"(’The Little Dog Laughed’) was a great story," Curran noted. "It was hip, it was funny. For me as a director, it all starts with the story. I don’t necessarily think the audience is going to learn a lot from it, but it’s one of those slice of life stories. I think a lot of it is autobiographical as far as (Beane’s) life."
Curran believes audiences will be able to relate to the characters in the play.
"The people talk like normal people," Curran said. "The characters talk in a vernacular that we use today and I think audiences will like it."
"The Little Dog Laughed" originally was produced off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre. It opened on 10 January 2006 and closed on February 26, 2006. It was later nominated for a 2007 Tony Award for Best Play.
"The Little Dog Laughed" runs through November 20, 2011 at the Providence Social Club, 71 Richmond Street, Providence, RI. Performance Schedule: Thursday, November 10th @ 7:30pm; Saturday, November 12th @ 7:30pm; Friday, November 18th @ 7:30pm; Saturday, November 19th @ 7:30pm; Sunday, November 20th @ 2pm. Tickets: $15 - $12. For more information, visit the Small Axe Theatre Facebook page.