January 25th, 2009

little-dog-signatureSHOWTUNE VIDEO MADNESS – Plus a Hit and a Miss this Week in Local Theatre

By Ben Ryland



Every Tuesday night from 9pm until 1am it’s SHOWTUNE VIDEO MADNESS

at the Club Hippo sponsored by Baltimore Outloud and the Hippodrome Theatre.  All your favorite musical numbers from Broadway and Hollywood with a few comedy bits thrown in has the crowd singing and dancing. The clips are shown on the big projection screens with the incredible Hippo sound system entertaining show queens and theatre fans alike. Requests are welcomed & singing and/or dancing are not required.


The Baltimore City Paper called the weekly event a ‘Critics Pick’ for a fun evening out. Admission is free and there are drink specials. On Tuesday February 3rd its GREASE night and you might win a pair of tickets to the show at the Hippodrome Theatre. On February 17th it is the DVD release party for, “High School Musical 3,” with give-a-ways. Join us Tuesday nights at the Hippo and bring your friends.


Signature Theatre presents The Little Dog Laughed

After the disappointing (for me at least) production of Les Miz, the Signature Theatre in Arlington is presenting the gay themed hit direct from Broadway- The Little Dog Laughed in their smaller theatre- The Ark.


 The intelligently written and funny script by Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown, To Wong Foo and the recent Tony nominated, XANADU) is an important show about love, romance, big bucks and hypocrisy in Hollywood. It seems that movie star Mitchell always gets a slight case of reoccurring homosexuality every time he gets drunk and this time his wish has been fulfilled by ‘Manhattanschoolboys.com.’


We all know that many Hollywood A-list actors are gay as we also know they will never come out. Here we have a story of an actor on the brink of superstardom, Mitchell (Matthew Montelongo), who has fallen for a rent boy while visiting NYC. The sweet hustler, Alex (Ivan Quintanilla), is looking for something that he hasn’t found in his life- someone to share it with.

But Mitchell’s Hollywood agent, Diane (3 time Helen Hayes Award winner Holly Twyford), is of the barracuda variety and determined to keep him on the straight and narrow path.


Complicating the trio is Alex’s girlfriend who is pregnant and a new gay play that is being pitched to Diane for her main client as a film vehicle. Of course she wants rewrites to make the protagonist straight, or at least straight appearing, so her movie star can play gay and win an Oscar for being daring and playing a homosexual. But Mitchell and Alex’s romance is running full throttle and she is worried he is on the verge of coming out. Yikes!


When Mitchell informs her that he wants Alex to accompany him to see the play Diane believes that this preference may become obvious, “like taking his mother to the Academy Awards as his date.” To keep his career on track, “all it takes is a little deception,” according to his lesbian agent. In a clever bit of casting director Michael Baron has given the three gay roles to three gay actors, in fact Montelongo and Quintanilla are long time partners.


The Little Dog Laughed has a unhappy ending but the playwright always defends it in interviews. It is a compromise which life is full of but it serves everyone’s purpose in this story. I must admitted the conclusion really disturbed me when I saw the play for the first time last year in New Haven, Ct. But Signatures version gets it right by really making the play more sincere and loving. Twyford is the driving force of the cast if a bit too smirky at times. The actress has all the best jokes and plays them to the back of the house unnecessarily. There is nothing subtle about the role or her performance. Quantanilla is a standout bringing real feelings to his boy toy role and I predict great things for him in the future. Montelongo and Casie Platt (Ellen the girlfriend) are both strong actors but fade into the background when the agent is preaching to his choir.


This is an important (gay) play in an outstanding local premiere at Signature and worth your attention. Plus the fact that it is fall out of your seat funny. It’s not to be missed.


The Little Dog Laughed    Signature Theatre, The Village of Shirlington, Arlington, VA

Now until March 8th.

Tickets:  www.signature-theatre.org

 Mid-life, the Crisis Musical

mid-life-tobys Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia is presenting a new musical, Mid-life, for a short run until March 8th. It is so depressing, not the show but what it represents to us of a certain age. Menopause, socks with sandals, yelling at neighborhood kids, balding, too tired for sex and needing to pee several times during the night. It’s all here and more in this 90 minute review style show.


Unfortunately both the show and production has its problems. The music is merely serviceable and un-melodic with lyrics that you can see coming from a mile away. The cast tries their best but there are problems with pitch in some voices and the ‘orchestra’ sounds hollow. I don’t have a problem with most small theatre productions that just use a piano but here at Toby’s you expect more. As for the acting and comic timing of the cast of six, the less said the better. Director Shawn Kettering does have fun with the staging and the video projections are a clever touch but even he can’t save the lame script.


The show does have some funny scenes but much of the delivery is pedestrian at best and once again you can see where the jokes are going. However the older dinner theatre crowd ate most of it up as fast as they did the steamed shrimp on the pre-show buffet. You will probably never hear of another production of this show so if this is your cup of tea hurry on down to Columbia.



Mid-Life, the Crisis Musical – Toby’s Dinner Theatre,

Now through March 8th


Tickets: 410-730-8311