“A Dog Story” is pleasant entertainment

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Intimate scene from
Intimate scene from "A Dog Story" at Bickford Theatre
A Dog Story at the Bickford Theatre

A Dog Story is a light one-act musical that makes for a mildly pleasant spring evening. It is the third and final production at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morristown this season.

The show, written by Eric H Weinberger with music and lyrics by Gayla D. Morgan, centers around Roland, a workaholic lawyer who’s just been passed up for a promotion. He thinks the problem is that he’s not married. But so far, he’s had no luck with women.

Scene from "A Dog Story" at Bickford Theatre
Scene from “A Dog Story” at Bickford Theatre

His best friend, Guy, suggests he rent a dog for August, since dogs are natural “chick magnets.” So, Roland reluctantly gets a puppy. On his first day on vacation Roland and puppy Cupid meet Blair, an equally workaholic fund manager. Blair flirts with the dog and its owner. Cupid’s misbehavior cuts this first meeting short. Then Roland hires dog trainer Miranda, who soon puts Cupid and Roland through their paces. This being a comedy, romantic entanglements ensue.

Director Eric Hafen puts his cast through their paces. Daniel Robert Sullivan as Roland slowly blossoms from ambitious lawyer to caring, more rounded human being. Shabazz Green’s Guy humorously scores as a hyper-sexualized man on the prowl. He is staunchly there for his best friend. Clare Fitzgerald is both Roland’s match in ambition and Guy’s match in sexuality in the role of Blair. She avoids the trap of making her character be merely cold, calculating, and unsympathetic. Finally, Allie Ambriano as Miranda is all business and no-nonsense as a trainer. She reveals her softer side through her quick, but true, affection for Cupid.

Scene from "A Dog Story" at Bickford Theatre
Scene from “A Dog Story” at Bickford Theatre
There are a couple of standout numbers.

Playwright Weinberger’s book is amusing, although somewhat standard. There are no startling plot twists or revelations to interrupt the story. Composer/lyricist Morgan’s score, has a couple of standout numbers. They include: “Cupid’s Lullabye,” sung by Miranda to the excitable puppy, and “Better Saturday Nights,” a comic duet for Miranda and Guy. The music, especially at the start of the show, is at times closer to recitative rather than full-blown song. Still, the score moves the plot along and meshes well with the book.

Credit should be given to the three-person orchestra. Music Director Stephanie Lindley on the keyboard leads guitarist Paul Hutchings and reed/brass player Simon Heaney through the score with style and energy. It provides a perfect accompaniment to the evening’s festivities.

Scene from "A Dog Story" at Bickford Theatre
Scene from “A Dog Story” at Bickford Theatre

The show is not a blockbuster, but thankfully no one involved tries to make it be. What it is, is a sweet little musical that will bring a smile to the faces of the audience. For a pleasant entertainment on an April evening, I suggest you see A Dog Story during its brief stay at the Bickford Theatre.

A Dog Story is presented by the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morristown through April 22, 2018. For the performance schedule, tickets, and other information, visit morrismuseum.org/main-stage-performances/.