Preview: The Little Dog Laughed

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
From the November 8, 2012 edition

The Short North Stage directing debut of Columbus theater veteran Jonathan Putnam will have audiences barking with laughter.

The screenplay for “The Little Dog Laughed” was nominated for a Tony award after hitting off-Broadway in 2006. The comedy asserts a so-scathing-it’s-funny view of Hollywood politics — where the business isn’t just cut-throat, it’s cut everything.

“I love this play,” Putnam said. “The satire’s really sharp.”

The play has four characters: a closeted homosexual actor, his unsuspecting girlfriend, his agent (whom Putnam called “a barracuda”), and a hustler with whom the actor has reoccurring romps with in an inconspicuous New York hotel room.

The plot turns are as surprising as lasting celebrity marriages. And each character has such well-written syntax, Putnam said, developing the professional Equity actors’ delivery was a comedic challenge the cast has worked hard to meet.

They’re in good hands. Putnam was involved with CATCO for 24 years before his position was cut in a surprise cost-saving effort two years ago. His comedic acting in CATCO productions like “Santaland Diaries” was a local theater fan favorite.

The production of the play, entry to which costs $23 per ticket, will be held in the Stage’s Green Room, the smaller stage adjacent to its main theater. Risers for seating have been placed in the room, and a set by local designer Patrick Allison skillfully transitions the small space into multiple NYC scenes.

The Green Room is intimate, Putnam said, which presents bonuses —actors’ body language will come through more — and challenges — like working out a comfort level for the actors in the full-on male nude scene.

In the end, the bite of “The Little Dog Laughed” isn’t as bad as the cynical growl.

“It is a play about the pursuit of happiness,” Putnam said. “Most of them end up happy, even if it involves them compromising on their ideals of happiness. You’ll never guess what happens.”