Theater

Edgy comedy ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ to kick off Redhouse theater season

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The Redhouse Arts Center is a Syracuse staple that attracts theater lovers across central New York.

Douglas Carter Beane’s award-winning comedic satire “The Little Dog Laughed” is coming to the Redhouse Arts Center to kick off its 2017-18 season.

The play, featuring sharp wit and dark humor, will premiere at the Redhouse theater Thursday and will run through Sept. 24.

“Redhouse was looking for a modern, upbeat comedy to kick off our season,” said Samara Hannah, Redhouse’s executive director, in an email. “‘The Little Dog Laughed’ was the perfect choice.”

The show, which won two Tony Awards for its 2006 Broadway production, revolves around the lives of up-and-coming Hollywood film star Mitchell and his gutsy agent, Diane. Problems, and naturally hilarity, ensue when Mitchell decides his goal is to come out of the closet, and Diane decides hers is to keep him in it.

Max Emerson, who plays Mitchell, is an Instagram sensation boasting 808,000 followers on the social media platform. The actor’s Instagram page is filled with pictures of him modeling, working out and posing with his boyfriend.

“Through his memoir ‘Hot Sissy,’ his films ‘Earwig’ and ‘Hooked’ and his social media platform, Emerson presents a message of identity pride, body positivity and inclusion,” said play director Vincent J. Cardinal.

Laura Austin, a Syracuse Area Live Theater actor and Redhouse’s founding artistic director, plays Diane. Local favorite Grace Allyn and Redhouse newcomer Connor Donnally round out the cast of the show.

Austin said the pre-existing bonds between the cast and crew allowed the show to come together in a two-week span.

“All four actors and director have worked with one another in some capacity, so it really feels like a company,” Austin said in an email.

Cardinal said the show’s cast of brings the play to life in an untraditional way. He said the cast “found more compassion in the relationships and more warmth in the humor than maybe traditionally played in a script with such arch humor.”

“The Little Dog Laughed” is the first of five shows playing at the Redhouse this season.

“Redhouse regularly picks plays that are a bit funky or edgy but have a huge heart,” Cardinal said. “‘The Little Dog Laughed’ is an upbeat launch to a season that explores family in all of its guises. …This season has something for every taste.”

The show will also hopefully achieve its goal of introducing a new generation of people to Syracuse theater. Austin said it’s crucial to cultivate a taste for live theater in Syracuse’s younger audiences.

“I hope they laugh,” Cardinal said in regard to the audience. “I hope they appreciate Beane’s clever wit, the actors’ heartfelt comic performances and the play’s dark and edgy humor.”

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