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The Little Dog Laughed’ stripped of sexual barriers, to take over Columbus’ Short North Stage

Courtesy of Gary White

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In a Broadway play set to come to Columbus Thursday, the characters don’t shy away from somewhat controversial topics.

“I have a slight, what they call a ‘recurring case of homosexuality,'” said actor Matt Bailey of his character Mitchell in “The Little Dog Laughed.”

The play is scheduled to be performed 8 p.m. Thursday and slated to run through Nov. 25 in the Green Room at the Garden Theater.

“The Little Dog Laughed” premiered in 2006 as an off-Broadway play written by Douglas Carter Beane. After it transferred to Broadway later that year, it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play and won Julie White a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Diane.

The comedy revolves around the love life and work life of Mitchell, an actor trying to succeed in Hollywood.

“He’s on the verge of making it big and he wants to come out of the closet,” said director Jon Putnam. “His agent absolutely refuses to let him come out of the closet.”

Lindsey Marlin, who plays Mitchell’s agent Diane, said that for her character, Mitchell’s sexuality is a “marketing issue.”

“My issue is that being seen walking around with your friend for the day will not fill the common woman with lust, will not fill the common man with envy. They’ll all feel superior,” Marlin said.

“The fear is that it will become a situation where he will no longer be desired by all the people in the world and the men won’t necessarily want to be like him.”

Perhaps the height of Mitchell’s conflict is when he and his lover Alex, played by Alex Kip, get nude for a scene.

“I think audiences are sophisticated enough to handle it,” Putnam said.

Bailey said he is comfortable with the nudity, as is Kip.

“We’ve both done it before, actually,” Bailey said. “It’s one of the things that once you do it once, you’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t die.’ It’s just about getting comfortable. It’s not like we’re doing a topless review.”

Rick Gore, manager of the Short North Stage, said the small space of the Green Room houses the specially constructed stage for “The Little Dog Laughed” well. It takes up a corner and most of two walls of the room.

“It’s the most complex set we’ve had,” Gore said. “There’s something that’s about the intimate space, I think, just because you’re so close to everyone, their laughs are so much more real,” Marlin said. “We have some scenes where we talk to each other, where we talk to the audience, there’s just a variety of ways to interact.”

At one point in the play, Diane addresses the audience while on the phone with a director. Mitchell sits up in bed to air his doubts about Alex. Alex sits up in bed to air his doubts about his sexuality. On one platform, Alex and his girlfriend Ellen talk while Diane narrates from the opposite corner of the room, driving the play along.

“Diane is the assertive go-getter. She wants what she wants, and she’s going to get it, and she’ll tell you how she’s going to get it,” said Kaitlyn Descutner, the understudy for Ellen and Diane.

The Friday and Saturday showings of “The Little Dog Laughed” are scheduled to be held 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $23, or $15 with a student discount at the box office. The Garden Theater is located at 1187 N. High St.

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