Starcatcher Collaborators Return to Old Globe With New Musical Dog and Pony

By Evan Henerson
11 Jun 2014

Nicole Parker
Photo by Jim Cox

Dog and Pony focuses on a male-female screenwriting team (Andy and Mags) in part because an opposite-sex creative partnership in which both members would be on equal footing is still, according to Elice, a relatively recent phenomenon. The lineage of same-sex professional duos (for the theatre, think Gilbert and Sullivan, Kaufman and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein) largely outweighs opposite-sex pairings. George Burns and Gracie Allen both enjoyed successful careers before they became Burns and Allen (and before their marriage). Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had a pretty good 20-year run as well.

"It used to just be men and men in the workplace while women occupied the subordinate roles," said Elice, who maintains his focus is romantic comedy rather than an investigation of business environments. "Now with the equality of the sexes in the workplace, it becomes more of a question of how do you have a creative partnership within an opposite sex relationship that is intensely intimate and romantic, but not sexual? And what happens in the course of that when one or the other of those two people wants to move it to another stage?"

So it goes with Andy (played by Jon Patrick Walker, no relation to the composer) and Mags (Parker) who have a string of cinematic hits but work assiduously not to fall in love with each other. The fracturing of Andy's marriage throws a new wrinkle into things. Rounding out the ensemble are Heidi Blickenstaff, Eric William Morris and Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone).

Director Roger Rees characterizes the play as being about "not lying to yourself and owning up to who you are." He says audiences may see a touch of Nichols and May or Burns and Allen in the Dog and Pony duo.

"They only really 'work' with each other and everyone else is less, and they know that," said Rees, Elice's husband as well as frequent collaborator, "and it's wonderful to see how energized they are by each other's brilliance. So, yeah, it helps to have that kind of person who promotes you and makes you better than you are."

San Diego and the Old Globe in particular have been fertile ground for the development of new musicals with such shows as Into the Woods, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Tony winner A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder all having out of town bows at the venerable theatre in Balboa Park. Elice's own Jersey Boys and Peter and the Starcatcher had pre-Broadway runs a few miles up the 5 freeway at the La Jolla Playhouse.

But despite the Globe's history of musical successes and the powerhouse credentials of its creators, Dog and Pony is a different animal: a small, five-actor show that is completely original with no movie or book on which it's based, no existing catalog of songs from an established pop hitmaker. The world-premiere production plays the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, the smallest of the three Globe spaces.