Almost exactly a year ago, Stageworks scored a popular and critical hit with The Little Dog Laughed, Douglas Carter Beane's unsettling social satire that revolved around sexual hypocrisy in Hollywood.
This week brings us a Stageworks production of As Bees in Honey Drown, which brings together some of the key artists from last year's production of another of Beane's acclaimed plays.
"The original intention was to bring back the entire cast of The Little Dog Laughed," said director Karla Hartley, the director of both shows. "That didn't happen, but I think the way it worked out is better."
Hartley, who also directed Little Dog, was able to recruit Nick Horan, a University of South Florida student actor who was impressive in the earlier show, to play the male lead in Bees. The other Little Dog alumnus is set designer Scott Cooper.
Alison Burns and Heather Krueger, two regulars from the revues at the Jaeb Theatre, are also featured, along with Tia Jemison, Slake Counts and Patrick Bolger.
People who saw Little Dog will see some similarities, Hartley said.
"It has a lot of that quick repartee that The Little Dog Laughed had," she said. "But I think it's a smarter play."
Beane had limited Hollywood success in the 1990s, when he wrote To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Hartley sees The Little Dog Laughed as Beane's attempt to air his disdain for the movie industry.
She sees As Bees in Honey Drown as more thematically mature and complex, even though it's also a comedy that deals with the side effects of artistry and celebrity.
"It's a play about excess," Hartley said. "It's about trying to be more than you need to be. That's what the title refers to, that you can have so much of a good thing that it will kill you, or at least harm you."
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IF YOU GO
As Bees in Honey Drown
Shows are 8 p.m. today (preview, $10), 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Shimberg Playhouse, David A. Straz Jr. Center for Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. $24.50 plus service charge through July 25. stageworkstheatre.org.