Culver City, CA - November 23, 2008 - Julie White reprises her Tony Award-winning performance in The Little Dog Laughed, the razor-sharp, Tony Award-nominated farce by Douglas Carter Beane. White portrays the brash, fast-talking Hollywood agent Diane, whose client has a chance to make it to superstar status, if only he stays in the closet. A sweet, sexy man enters his life and makes the ruse difficult, even as this new love interest has complications of his own -- a needy girlfriend. But nothing derails Diane in her pursuit of power and money as she skillfully and hilariously manipulates all within her reach. With twists and turns that keep audiences guessing, The Little Dog Laughed cleverly reflects America's celebrity-obsessed culture.
Georja: This was the first time we attended a performance at the Kirk Douglas. Opening night -- with people pouring out into the sidewalks and filling the lobby, all chattering madly in a festive mood -- reminded me of what a small-town theater can be like. It had the ambiance of everyone knowing each other, very excited about a big event coming to town. In this town, of course, that included a lot of star spotting.
Gerald: We ran into our friend and Jeopardy phenom Bob Verini in the lobby, who said he often attends, and pointed out Kirk Douglas in the flesh, adding that he's usually there on opening nights. Among the other stars in the audience were Victor Garber and David Hyde-Pierce. And those were just the ones we noticed. There was a lot of hugging and air-kissing. It was a play about industry insiders, watched by industry insiders. I think that's one reason for the small-town feeling you got. It was a very close-knit group, and they all got the jokes.
Georja: Even those waiting on the sidewalk to get in seemed extremely happy. I don't know if it was because of Thanksgiving's coming or they were giving prizes out, or they were getting "Hot Tix." But I have never seen an L.A. theater audience like this. Maybe also because people were jazzed that this had been a hot ticket on Broadway, with a hot industry theme.
Gerald: This play is a cynical, albeit funny, look at show business. The jokes are funny because the situations are so familiar. At one point, the Alex character ( Johnny Galecki) whines, "This is like a party game for mean people." (Audiences will recognize Galecki from his starring role on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.)
Georja: Just writing about familiar situations doesn't make it funny. Douglas Carter Beane is truly a funny man. He compares an agent's promise to keep her word like a prostitute offering her cherry. And there's plenty of other zingers to keep it poppin'. (I thought there would be dogs involved because of the title. And that was the only disappointment!)
Gerald: One of my favorite lines is when Alex's girlfriend Ellen ( Zoe Lister-Jones) cracks, "We have no friends, Alex. We're both too snobby for that." Thinking they've maxed out their luck in New York, they contemplate moving to L.A. The action is split between the two industry towns.
Georja: Julie White as Diane, the agent-manager-driving-force-phenomenon-of-nature, is fabulous. She originated the role Off-Broadway, went on to win the Tony, and now jumps into her killer shoes in Culver City.
Gerald: I'm guessing everyone in the audience wishes he or she had an agent like her.
Georja: Yes and no. Grand manipulator of the business, yes. Of your personal life, not so much.
Gerald: Who knew there were handsome leading men in Hollywood who pretend to be heterosexual for the sake of their box office draw? Perhaps the central question is, how do you feel about Diane pushing that cause? Fighting for it? She'll stop at nothing to promote her client Mitch ( Brian Henderson) and his boy-next-door image.
Georja: I loved Ellen's droll character. And, in fact, all the actors, the staging, and the whole package were superb. The Little Dog Laughed is just the antidote for a somewhat beleaguered and troubled society and industry at this moment in time.
Gerald: There's a fine line between pleasure and pain. As with most Hollywood stories, you have to laugh or else you'd cry.
Georja: As long as it's not your pain.
Gerald: Beane seems genuinely pissed about getting rewritten. The plot has Mitch's producers optioning a play for a movie -- which could just as well be this one -- and negotiating and intimidating the offstage playwright -- who could just as well be Beane. He's not only laughing at a situation all writers eventually face, but he's also thumbing his nose at his persecutors.
Georja: True, and the writing is so succinct that it incorporates the life the characters are living into the play they're negotiating about. Cleverly done, with Diane as a kind of chorus, pushing it all forward.
Gerald: Well, do you think it'll be a movie?
Georja: They'll never get Tom Cruise.
Georja Umano is an actress-comedienne and animal advocate.
Gerald Everett Jones is the author of the Rollo Hemphill series of comic novels.
Photos by Craig Schwartz
KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
Ticket Prices: $25-$65
Tickets may be purchased by calling CTG Audience Services at (213) 628-2772, in person at the Center Theatre Group box office (at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles), on-line at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org or at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office two hours prior to performances. Hot Tix: $20 each may be purchased in advance or, subject to availability, on the day of performance at the box office (no checks). Groups: (213) 972-7231. Deaf community: information & charge, TDD (213) 680-4017.
Regular Performances: Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; No performances on Mondays or Tuesdays. Exceptions: Added performance on Monday, November 24 at 8 p.m.; No performance on Thursday, November 27.
Published on Nov 24, 2008