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If you enjoy theatre, from either the onstage, backstage, or audience member point of view, then you can probably think of a couple shows that you know that require a canine cast member. Whether it's Sandy in Annie or Bruiser in Legally Blonde, pups in showbiz take their job very seriously. Here's a little preview of what the job of performing pups looks like.
Many theatres, especially community theatre, use local dogs or cast members' dogs to be in shows, but there's a lot more to a stage pup than most people realize.
When a dog is needed for a production, many theatres also hold open casting calls, but since may dogs get nervous once they get into an audition room with people they don't know, this isn't a great reflection of the dog's true talent.
While we typically think of human actors as having "talent," doggy actors have to have talent, as well. To be a good canine actors, pups should have great socialization skills as well as be great listeners. Essentially, doggy actors have to take on the job of repeating the same commands for every performance.
Many theatres, instead of just trying to find a good local pup, choose to hire out. Just as there are organizations that help theatres find local human talent, there are organizations that help theatres find animal talent, too. One such company is Theatrical Animals, based out of Connecticut, Theatrical Animals dispatches pups not just to local Connecticut, Boston, or New York theatres, but also to theatres all over the U.S.
William Berloni, founder of Theatrical Animals, recognized the need for pups who had the ability to be trained for certain roles, and realized that these dogs could have a happy life with caretakers all while having their moment to shine onstage or onscreen.
The dogs at Theatrical Animals are trained by particular trainers, and all know a variety of commands. These pups, since they listen and learn well, can also be trained to do particular commands or tasks that a script requires of them. Theatrical Animals, as its name suggests, also has a variety of other animals they train, from goats to cockroaches.
Really, when it comes down to it, any dog can be an excellent actor, as long as they listen well!
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