The Transylvania Times -

'Just Another Big Dog' Is Another BLT Hit

 

February 25, 2019

Courtesy Photo

From left to right, John Adams, Sally Burnett, Doug Campen, Heather Denton and Andy Thompson bring local veterinarian Mark Thompson's original play "Just Another Big Dog" to life at Brevard Little Theatre.

A record-breaking blizzard threatens a rural town near the Canadian border and the townspeople, including the two local veterinarians, are preparing for feet – not inches – of snow to dump on their area over the next three days. As the two doctors finish their final weather preparations and transition the care of Mrs. Prentiss' cat Wendy from Dr. Carol Lynch to her junior associate Dr. Claire Pierce, two men wielding guns enter with a man wounded by a bullet. For the next three days, the vets and their visitors reveal details about their lives that have brought them each to this moment in time.

Meanwhile, married radio announcers Dale and Phoebe of radio station 98.1 WKNC keep listeners informed of the storm's impact on the town and of a bank robbery that ended in gunfire with an injured security guard and suspects on the run.

Local playwright, actor, director and veterinarian Mark Thompson wrote "Just Another Big Dog" nearly 10 years ago for Brevard Little Theatre's then-popular New Play Competition. Since then, Thompson rewrote characters and plot lines several times and shared his latest iteration of the play with BLT's play selection committee for feedback. Evidently, they thought it warranted a place on the schedule as BLT's first production of 2019. I'd have to agree.

Thompson, as director, and producer Lauren Day cast some of my local favorites in key roles of this drama with a softer side.

Sally Burnett, whom I've reviewed in the past for her roles in "Agnes of God," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," and Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple (Female Version)," did not disappoint in her role as Dr. Carol Lynch. She delivered each line with such confidence and authority that I had to remind myself that she wasn't an actual surgeon. She also skillfully captured her character's motherly side during interactions with the other characters.

Equally convincing and authoritative, Heather Denton embodied the unflappable and complex nature of her character Dr. Claire Pierce. Denton, BLT's artistic director who had her BLT acting debut in 2016 with "Godspell," adeptly balanced Burnett's character with Dr. Pierce's edgy, hard-knocks perspective of life and insight into people. Watching them interact took me to scenes of hospital-based TV dramas like "ER," "Trapper John, M.D." and "Grey's Anatomy."

Thompson's son, Andy Thompson, excelled in his role as Joel Kilburn, one of the gun-wielding visitors to the veterinarian's office. The younger Thompson, another BLT veteran, kept the audience wondering whether he would be broken down to tears by the interrogating and psychoanalytical questions of Dr. Lynch or sent over the proverbial edge by his "henchman," who clearly had his own best interests in mind.

That "henchman," rich-kid-turned-junkie Gary Tyndall, experienced the lifelike revolving door of emotions and reactions to situations and people that addicts typically encounter as they try to rebuild their lives.

Actor John Adams, whom I last watched in his role as Clifford Anderson in BLT's fall production of Ira Levin's "Deathtrap," commanded the role of Gary and unveiled the deep layers of addiction.

As the plot evolves, the characters reveal the identity of the gunshot victim. Played by Brevard attorney Doug Campen, Mike Kilburn is a father figure to his younger brother Joel. While Campen's character lay still for most of the two-hour production, the final scene of the two-act play showcased his ability to also act. He and Denton flawlessly delivered Mark Thompson's bow-tie ending to this worthwhile play. They reveal what has become of each of the characters over the 10 years since the fateful Nor'easter brought them all together.

Mark Thompson thought of everything when he wrote "Just Another Big Dog" and didn't fall short with casting his characters. Even radio announcers Dale and Phoebe, played by real-life former radio and TV broadcaster Tad Fogel and Joan Rinchisen, who last appeared on the BLT stage as Myra in "Deathtrap," kept the plot alive and moving forward, while providing comedic relief and needed distractions as on-stage characters transitioned between scenes.

While many great plays begin as great books, "Just Another Big Dog" turns that tradition on its head. Playwright Thompson, obviously inspired by his veterinary practice, created a well-thought-out story with the intent of bringing it to life. Backed by his production staff and cast of top-caliber actresses and actors, he delivered "another big hit" with "Just Another Big Dog."

Performances run Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through March 3 at Brevard Little Theatre, 55 E. Jordan St. in downtown Brevard. To purchase tickets online, visit http://www.TheBrevardLittleTheatre.org, or buy them in person at the theater Box Office one hour prior to each performance. Reservations for Flex Pass holders and tickets not purchased online may be made by calling (828) 884-2587.

 
 

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