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"Art Dog" is a different kind of theatrical story for kids, stuffed full of jokes about classic artistic masterpieces.

It's the story of Dogopolis Museum of Art security guard Arthur Dog, who is as quiet as Charlie Chaplin performing his day job, guarding paintings by Vincent Van Dog, Pablo Poodle and Henri Muttisse. On moonlit nights, however, he dons a hat and a mask and goes out to paint the town, like a canine Banksy, says director Penelope Marantz Caywood.

The stage adaptation of the children's picture book, written and illustrated by Thacher Hurd, features slapstick action, a few spirited songs and lots of movement, including art heists and chases.

It's the seventh annual children's play produced by Salt Lake Acting Company, which as well as night and weekend shows for theatergoers offers matinee performances for more than 1,700 students at Salt Lake-area Title 1 elementary schools. "Our students have little opportunity to see live performances, and the SLAC show is always the favorite field trip of the school year," said Kelley Morgan, a kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary, in a statement.

During the run of the children's play, Dec. 4-23, the theater company will also raise money and awareness for three local charities — Intermountain Therapy Animals, Voices for Utah Children and Bad Dog Arts.

"Most of the show, I'm a little Harpo Marx," says Alexis Baigue, who plays the title character and calls the show's broad humor "Saturday's Voyeur" for kids, except without any religious jokes. "I'm just listening and it's all very physical. And I don't really talk, which is unusual for me."

Also in the cast are Jenessa Bowen, Olivia Custodio and Jaten Lee McGriff, all of whom wear floppy ears, black noses and dots on their cheeks to suggest whiskers.

Any kid who likes to watch adults running around acting really stupid and silly will enjoy the show. "Because basically that's what I get to do for 45 minutes, and there's nothing I'd rather be doing," says Baigue, who is returning for his 19th production at SLAC. "It's the best job. I feel bad for people who have to have other jobs than this." —

Digging the comedic bone in 'Art Dog'

P John Olive's adaptation of Thacher Hurd's picture book "Art Dog" features music by Susan Ennis. Penelope Caywood directs the cast featuring Alexis Baigue, Jenessa Bowen, Olivia Custodio and Jaten Lee McGriff. Production design includes musical direction by Kevin Mathie, set design by Glenn Brown, costume design by Linda Brown, sound design by Shea Madson and lighting design by Spencer Brown.

When • Dec. 4-23: Fridays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon and 3 p.m.; additional 10 a.m. shows Dec. 19 and 20; also Dec. 21-23 at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.

Where • Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $15 children, $25 adults (group discounts available); 801-363-7522 or