The Little Dog Laughed

By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

Ah, Hollywood: Notorious from the very beginning of the movie business for hiding gay, lesbian and
bisexual stars under a cloak of make-believe heterosexuality.

This serious theme is handled deliciously in the TheaterWorks production of Douglas Carter
Beane's Tony-nominated play The Little Dog Laughed.

From the moment that hard-as-nails agent Diane glamorously bursts onstage (a role interpreted
brilliantly by Candy Buckley); the dark side of the movie biz is personified by her kiss-kiss, kill-kill
characterization. She acts as narrator throughout the comedy, and her course and crude words
are peppered with pansy jokes, but because of who she is, you brace yourself for that kind of talk
from this manipulative star-maker.

The story line reveals that the agent is out to get her client, Mitchell (Chad Allen) a plum movie
role. Mitchell becomes involved with a male hustler, Alex (Jeremy Jordon), who has a girlfriend,
Ellen (Amanda Perez). Do you follow so far? It's Diane's job to protect her client from his 'sudden
attacks' of homosexuality and to keep his sexual preference secret from both the press and the
movie backers.

We were so happy to have been placed on the aisle, thus giving us a place in which to roll when
the hilarious dialogue made us fall out of our seats. The script is clever and funny, but with sad
undercurrents. The big question for Mitch is whether or not he can follow his secret heart and still
survive as a movie idol.

The purpose of this review is not to reveal the play's twists and turns, but to celebrate the four
charismatic and gifted actors who create three-dimensional characters and inhabit them
touchingly throughout the play.

Chad Allen, in his first scene, does a comedic yet tragic drunk that is so real that it demonstrates
his wide range as an actor. In the same scene, Jeremy Jordon's light-fingered hustler brings humor
and conscience to what could have been a smarmy low-life.

Douglas Carter Beane has written wittier stronger parts for the women than for the men - much like
Marc Cherry does for the women of Desperate Housewives. Amanda Perez, making her stage
debut at TheaterWorks, has a monologue about going home to her mother's house in Westchester
that had the audience gasping for air in between belly laughs.

The male roles in this piece have fewer laughs, although one bedroom scene, involving a "he's
thinking this, and I'm thinking that" theme comes across as extremely funny. Both Chad Allen and
Jeremy Jordon get every bit of intensity and emotion out of their creations - and the fine directorial
skills of Rob Ruggiero help to pull out the finest performances - as always - from his players.

There is very attractive male nudity onstage yet the nudity is not gratuitous. It is necessary to
illustrate the mutual physical and emotional passion that overwhelms both Mitchell and Alex. Hats
off (and skivvies, too) to Mr. Allen and Mr. Jordon for being so totally uninhibited, natural and at
ease in their nakedness. It made the audience equally at ease and accepting of the intense
bedroom scenes. These were performed with believability and beauty.

There are a few scenes, especially one toward the end, in which the author has all the actors
talking at once, their lines overlapping but not always understood. The playwrights' use of this
theatrical device makes it difficult for the audience to hear the actor's lines. A minor flaw, but one
that needs work.

To see The Little Dog Laughed for its comic themes is a great reason to call TheaterWorks for
tickets before the play ends its run on March 9.

A better reason to see this play is to cheer and whistle for four superb actors who equally light up
the stage - Chad Allen, Candy Buckley, Jeremy Jordon, and Amanda Perez, in alphabetical order.
This foursome is what going to the theater is all about-terrific acting!

This article originally appeared in Metroline.

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