Found Dog Ribbon Dance is a cuddly story about love

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It starts off easy, sweet and very funny. Norma is a professional cuddler. Now I have heard of professional cuddlers but to my knowledge I have never met one nor have I ever understood the what, why and wherefore of their “profession.” Nevertheless there she is engaging in her cuddling work. Also just to get things off to a weird and wonderful start there we see on stage Dog, not just a dog but the Dog who as it turns out is a human man barking and otherwise behaving like one would expect of a dog. Seems the dog got lost from its owners and found its way into the care of Norma. But Norma wants very much to return the dog to its real owners and to that end visits the local coffee shop and posts a photo of the dog directing the owner where to find her and the dog.

Daniel Hagan

Yes, yes I know this is all rather strange but hang in there, it gets even better. At the coffee shop she is met by a barista, a fellow by the name of Norm. Seems Norm is a huge fan of the late great Whitney Houston. In fact Norm routinely takes video of himself dancing in a very flamboyant manner to Houston music. At first their encounter is rather stressed. But slowly Norm and Norma begin to develop a very much unexpected relationship. As the story unfolds what becomes obvious is that both Norm and Norma have been long suffering from a failed relationship, shattered love and ultimately deep loneliness. This is when the story begins to turn. What starts as wild, outlandish and funny morphs into something far deeper. But I will not spoil the story for you.

Each role is exquisitely performed by clearly gifted actors. Dog is portrayed by Daniel Hagen, Norm by Steven Strobel and Norma by Amanda Saunders lead the show with superb support from Eric Gutierrez, Gabriel Santorangelo, Gregory Itzin, Clarissa Thibeaux, Julie Dretzin and West Liang. It is one of those all too rare theatrical presentations that reaches beyond the easy and superficial and probes both heart and mind. For this I also salute playwright Dominic Finocchiaro. Want to see something remarkably unique and richly entertaining? The Echo Theatre Company has just what you are looking for.

The Found Dog Ribbon Dance is making its World Premiere right now at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90039. Show times are 8:00 p.m. on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays with 4 p.m. matinees each Sunday from now through February 26th 2017. Reservations and ticketing are available by calling 310-307-3753 or online.

Photos by Darrett Sanders — Top photo: Amanda Saunders and Steven Strobel