A Dog Story: Unconditional Love (Review in Konk Life)

A Dog Story: Unconditional Love (Review in Konk Life)

Posted Mon, May 12, 2014 in Reviews

By. C. S. Gilbert

Anyone who’s ever loved a dog will love “A Dog Story,” Waterfront Playhouse’s season finale that opened on Thursday, May 8. Heck, anyone who ever loved anyone who loved a dog will probably totally enjoy the show. This fairly frothy comedy with wonderful music and superb acting is a fitting finish for a fine 2013-14 Waterfront season.

Key West knows Gayla Morgan as an actor, a singer, a violinist and, thanks to Conch Republic: The Musical! as a composer/lyricist. She just nailed the latter designation with truly wonderful songs, with equally wonderful words, for “A Dog Story.” Book is credited to Eric H. Weinberger and warm credit is due; one among a number of memorable lines submitted that, if one planned to stand someone up, to have the courtesy to call them up and lie.

The show returns local favorite Kristin Michelle to town from New York as Miranda, the dog trainer. It also features Stephanie Sander, a former Keys Chorale singer with operatic chops now also based in New York, a reprise after her role in “Xanadu” as the sultry Blair, and introduces a total newby, New York pro David Perlman, as the hero, Roland. The quartet of fine actors and singers is rounded out by Trey Forsyth, who apparently raised the roof for Waterfront’s recent Aqua Idol; we missed his Red Barn debut credit but welcome to town a talented and cuddly new performer who is also credited with major operatic chops.

The acting, as we have come to expect from the Waterfront, is flawless. Even more noteworthy is the high level of pantomime required to create Cupid the dog, and create him they did.

Kudos then to Frank Galgano, making his local debut as director and co-orchestrator with co-orchestrator Matt Castle — a dynamic duo. Always wonderful was Charles Lindberg as musical director, on keyboards, with local fave Tim McAlpine on guitar and – a musical stroke of genius – Mark Rose on woodwinds. Tossing a clarinet and maybe an oboe into the mix was brilliant.

The show takes a little while to get up steam but happily the momentum builds; it truly takes off and carries the audience happily through its 90-minutes, no intermission. The conclusion was another of those not-many-dry-eyes-in-the-audience final curtains and the word heard most often, as the opening night crowd exited to the courtyard and the gala reception, was “adorable.”

As usual, Stage Manager Trish Manley keeps things moving right along.

We wish we could just end it at that. But professionalism bids us be honest (and meet, at least, our 500 word assignment). The trauma here is that, for the first time in memory, Michael Boyer’s set left something to be desired, that being an opening drop showing a Manhattan street scene — or barring that, an absolute blackout with spots on our hero, Roland, and the gorgeous Blair. The opening combo of the metro high rise side stage with the dominant white picket fence of the Hamptons on the main stage – with Blair’s first scene played in front of it — was a scenic dissonance.

And if you intend to clink glasses in a toast, don’t use plastic, ok?

No matter. Unless you really hate dogs, the show is adorable, delightful, enjoyable. We recommend it.

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