‘The Little Dog Laughed’ attempts to pry open Hollywood’s closet
by Donalevan Maines
Like Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Richard Chamberlain, and many more (whom we won’t mention), movie star Mitchell Green in the comedy The Little Dog Laughed at Theater LaB has this “recurring case of homosexuality” that threatens to ruin his image as a leading man.
It gives his agent fits. She’s Diane, a lesbian—the outspoken type—and in Jimmy Phillips’ production at Theater LaB, she’s played by the straight Mary Hooper. By anyone’s standards, Hooper is Houston theater’s diva emeritus. In this role, Julie White won the 2007 Tony Award for best actress in a play.
Mitchell (Nate Suurmeyer) drunkenly tries to navigate Hollywood’s tabloid-choppy waters by limiting his sex life to rent boys, including Bryan Kaplun as slow-but-sure-witted Alex, who charges $200 a trick.
Mitchell: You must be very good. At sex.
Alex: That’s not what people pay you for.
Mitchell: What do people pay you for?
Alex: To leave afterwards.
The Little Dog Laughed, a nominee for best play on Broadway, was written by Douglas Carter Beane, the gay screenwriter of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, author of the play As Bees in Honey Drown, and book-writer of the stage musical Xanadu that starred Cheyenne Jackson.
Beane lives in New York, but he clearly had his hand on the pulse of Hollywood when he lampooned Tinseltown with The Little Dog Laughed, which also includes Rebekah Stevens as Ellen, Alex’s girlfriend. (Whaaa? The rent boy has a girlfriend? Oh, well.)
In October, The New York Times reported that Beane’s next project is The Nance, starring Nathan Lane. “Nance, or nancy boy, is disparaging slang for an effeminate or homosexual man, and nances were popular theatrical figures, akin to blackface performers, during the 1920s and ’30s,” explained the Times’ Patrick Healy.
The Little Dog Laughed plays through December 12 at Theater LaB, 1706 Alamo (off 2100 Houston Ave.). Call 713/868-7516 for reservations or visit theaterlabhouston.com. Ticket prices are $25 and $30.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through December 11; Thursday, December 9 at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 5 p.m. on December 5 and 12.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.