Man’s best friend Pup Enzo (David S. Hogan) and his human Denny (Eric Riedmann)

Photo: Courtesy Alan Alabastro

David S. Hogan sounds like he’s training to be a boxer: weight lifting, resistance training, jogging. Six days a week of workouts, more than he’s ever done to get ready for a part in a show. Then again, he’s never had to play a different species before.

Hogan has big paws to fill this month when he stars as loyal mutt Enzo in the stage premiere of Garth Stein’s best-selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, newly adapted by Book-It Repertory Theatre. Not only is the character beloved by pet owners and animal apathetics alike, but playing the furry narrator demands hours spent crawling (or racing) around on your hands and knees. Anyone over the age of two would agree: That ain’t fun.

The even greater challenge, though, is embodying a not-so-ordinary pooch who dreams of being reincarnated as a man. He yearns for opposable thumbs and scorns the monkeys who don’t deserve them. While the theater has produced other stories featuring dogs—John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Pam Houston’s Cowboys Are My Weakness—Book-It co–artistic director Myra Platt, who adapted Racing for the stage, said “we still struggled with Enzo’s particular desirous destiny to become human…. Casting an actor to portray a dog: we wondered, would there be enough dramatic tension in hearing a dog talk on and on about how much he wished he could talk?”

Find out how Book-It brings Racing to the stage in our April feature ‘This Dog’s Life’.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Opening night Apr 20, thru May 13
$22–$44, Center Theatre (formerly Center House Theatre)