“Little Dog” laughs best at small venue

Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Little Dog Laughed” is right where it should be – on a small intimate stage.

The production running through Nov. 8 at
San Francisco‘s New Conservatory Theatre Center is at a better suited venue here than the more grandiose Broadway stage where it was nominated for Best Play at the 2007 Tonys.

“Dog” tells the story of a big

Hollywood star, played by Matt Socha, who is trying to find an easy way out of the closet, much to the dismay of his power-hungry, fierce agent Diane, played to great perfection by Michaela Greeley.

While Socha and his rent boy potential boyfriend (Justin Dupuis) have amazing chemistry, it’s Greeley who steals the show – as did Julie White in her Tony winning Broadway role. And it’s hard not to make your mark in this role when Beane gives Diane the show’s most witty dialog and comical barbs.

In the hands of a lesser actress, the performance could easily be too over-the-top, making the audience laugh at the actress instead of with her. But

Greeley keeps the outrageousness in check, making Diane totally believable.

Then there’s Danielle Perata in a smaller role but she does more with it that her Broadway predecessor. Perata’s

Westchester accent and smooth, sarcastic delivery, add more to some of the lines of dialog then even written.

Director Ed Decker seems to have honed in on each actor’s strong-suits as he brings rich performances from the four actors.

And kudos to scenic and props designers Kuo-Hao Lo and Stacy Bock who adds just the right touches to Mitchell’s hotel room set that it is make it look a lot like room where a famous movie star might stay.

Having seen the original Broadway production, it wasn’t surprising that although a well written and acted play, it seemed too lost on such a big stage. At the New Conservatory Theatre Center, it’s right at home.

“The Little Dog Laughed” plays through November 8 at the NewConservatoryTheatreCenter’s Decker Theatre at 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Check out the show and other productions and to order tickets, go to www.nctcsf.org or call for tickets at 415/861-8972.