PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Douglas Carter Beane

Brief Encounter   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Douglas Carter Beane The little dog isn't the only one laughing these days.
Douglas Carter Beane with Caroline Rhea
Douglas Carter Beane with Caroline Rhea Photo by Aubrey Reuben

He's joined by playwright Douglas Carter Beane, who, after 15 years of trying, is finally seeing one of his comedies bow on Broadway. Beane's biggest success previous was the Off-Broadway smash As Bees in Honey Drown, which sent up the chimera of modern fame as embodied by the self-invented socialite Alexa Vere de Veer. He returns to the subject of fame in The Little Dog Laughed (animal titles are a good luck charm for the author). Another woman, power agent Diane—played to critical acclaim Off-Broadway at Second Stage—is at the center of this story. She's not self-invented—she actually is an agent—but she'd like to reinvent herself as a producer, if only her inconveniently gay star client, Mitchell, would do as he's told and stay in the closet. Beane talked to Playbill.com about life as a 21st century American comic playwright.

Playbill.com: I know that you cherish theatre traditions and history. Is it meaningful to you that one of your plays has finally made it to Broadway?
Douglas Carter Beane: I'm finally on Broadway! Here we are.

Playbill.com: Did you ever think you'd get there?
DCB: Did I ever think I'd get there? When I signed with [agent] George Lane, I knew I'd get there. [Laughs] It sort of wasn't a consideration for a while. It wasn't going to happen. I was thinking of becoming an Irish citizen. I thought that might help. I was going to change my name to Seamus McDedcalf, hoping to get a chance at Broadway.

Playbill.com: Then you'd get a production at the National and it would transfer to Broadway.
DCB: Exactly.

Playbill.com: Was there ever any danger that you might lose Julie White, that she would be stolen away by television?
DCB: Yeah. There was a time when her agent signed her to do “Desperate Housewives.” There was a pretty scary 48 hours there. That's why we pushed the opening to where it is. We actually were talking about three months in which she would leave, and there was talk of getting another actress. But then Julie turned around and said, "This stinks! I can do television all the time. A big Broadway play with me at the center—that's not going to happen again." Playbill.com: Do people still come up to you after the show and ask who the characters are based on?
DCB: No, now they assume!

Playbill.com: They don't ask you, they tell you.
DCB: They tell me! Or they assume they know and say, "Oh, you! Oh, you!" Yeah, it's sort of funny, because different parts of the plot get laughs now, as those things happen in real life.

Playbill.com: This is a new comedy written by a living American on Broadway. That almost never happens anymore.
DCB: Yeah. It's funny, because the Cort was actually built for comedy. It was one of those things that, after the move was announced, people started saying to me: this doesn't happen. It does seem silly, because I do write Broadway comedies, in terms of type. Not that any of them ever got to Broadway.

Playbill.com: Has this transfer increased interest in your other projects? What's going on with the musical The Big Time?
DCB: The Big Time, that is not doing so well. Bless its heart, I love the show, it gets great reviews, the audiences have a good time. I'm still hoping we get a regional production. That hasn't happened, but it will probably happen. Other things, like Xanadu have a commercial future. We'll probably have a workshop in January and a production in the spring.

Playbill.com: Where?
DCB: That is up for discussion. One of the non-traditional spaces here.

Playbill.com: And has Second Stage asked for a new play?
DCB: They have asked for a new play. I have one. I'm trying to sort it out. Scott Ellis will direct it. It's called Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost Too. It's about husband and wife gossip columnists.

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