By the time opening night of The Little Dog Laughed rolled around, those of us involved in the build up to the show were relieved that the public was finally going to see what we’ve been promoting, defending, gushing over, justifying, and generally maneuvering our way around. It’s been an exhilarating and challenging few weeks. But through it all we have loved the play. When I first read it last year --- belly laughing and gleefully muttering to myself, “Are we really going to do this?” --- I loved the language, envied the wit, and poured over illegal Little Dog video of Julie White and Tom Everett Scott on YouTube.
I watched some legit internet clips too, and quickly zeroed in on interviews with playwright Douglas Carter Beane. Funny. Razor sharp. Self-effacing. You gotta love those Broadway big-wigs. But mostly they stay on Broadway. To be admired from my computer. Like Julie White and Tom Everett Scott (with some extra Google Images time devoted to Tom). So when Susan Sanford let it slip that DCB might actually be coming to our opening night I was elated for about 3 seconds, and then my stomach started slipping south. In the theatrical world of non-stop measuring up, with a guy who clearly is way past any mark I’ll ever know, would the Barksdale production come anywhere close?
Doug Beane walked in the Barksdale door with a wide grin and extended hand. He was genuinely friendly. Doug came with Lewis Flinn, his partner of many years and composer of Little Dog music as well as loads of other Broadway and TV scores. I was relieved that these two guys were regular people. Okay, über successful, smart, and witty regular people. They seemed downright tickled to be here. They oogled over the photos in the lobby (which are stunning, thanks to Jay Paul). They introduced us to Lewis’ parents who are Barksdale patrons. They bounded up the stairs greeting everyone and spreading goodwill.
But my stomach had not caught up with how jolly our guests seem to be. I am still nervous about the measuring up. I keep sneaking glances at them during the show. They are getting a kick out of Susan’s performance and looking around at everyone else getting a kick out of Susan. Every time Laine Satterfield comes on, DCB inches forward in his seat and smiles. I think these are good things and I relax. Then the bed gets stuck halfway along its intended downstage trajectory. John is slyly propping up a set panel while lying on the stuck bed and I am praying that Matt will not whack his head on the panel looming over the crazy stuck bed. The crew is trying to yank it from behind, pull it, FIX IT! FIX IT! There is some banging and dropping of metal. I am no longer relaxed. Susan has been masterfully “working” her laryngitis but it is getting a tighter grip. I am now avoiding any glances whatsoever in the direction of Doug and Lewis.
I do look around, though, at everyone else in the audience and they are completely engrossed in the play. They are rooting for the two guys to be together. They are laughing, intrigued, appalled, touched, engaged. I know these things are good. And I know that this was an important choice for Barksdale and a deeply personal quest for
After the show, there was a rare chance to celebrate play and playwright, director and cast, supporters and friends. Host Bill Hall put together a truly elegant bash that would have been the envy of any New Yorker. I felt a little silly with my Kodak One-Shot and home camcorder in hand, but we wanted to share the love!
THANK YOU Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn!!
- Judi Crenshaw