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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Annie the Musical And Broadway Animal Trainer Bill Berloni: The Adventures of Sandy, Part II

We're thrilled to bring you Part II of our interview with Bill Berloni, Broadway's premier animal trainer, and rescuer of shelter dogs extraordinaire. In case you missed it, check out our first post  on Berloni and his history with Annie the Musical and its scruffy co-star, Sandy. By the way, Annie has been nominated for a 2013 Tony Award: Best Revival of a Musical—congrats all around! And we hope this nomination means more ticket sales, more money to the Pedigree Foundation (two dollars from every ticket goes to the Foundation), and in turn, more money donated to help shelter dogs by our good friends at Pedigree!

Because Berloni started out as an actor, he says he "can empathize with them" and the rigors of live theater, for both the human and dog performers. While Berloni is Sunny's, and his understudy, Casey's official trainer, the dogs have to be comfortable with all of the cast members, so he "trains the actors to be one of the handlers so they [the dog] learns to love the actor...so they work for them. Otherwise the dog would be working [and looking] offstage with you [the trainer]", which wouldn't work in live theater. In this version of Annie, the lead actress, Lilla Crawford, takes off two of the eight shows a week for vocal rest, so the understudy dog, Casey, goes on with the understudy star, Taylor Richardson. This makes perfect sense even from a laypersons' perspective because what the audience sees is the real-life bonding of a girl and her dog and the love between them.

Behind the theater curtain though, is another cast ritual: Sunny (or Casey) always says "Hello" to the cast and crew (over 30 people) before the show, so they can get their enthusiastic greetings done before they appear on stage together. After all, no one (except perhaps the audience) would want to see Sunny joyfully galloping over to greet, say, Daddy Warbucks, when he was supposed to quietly comfort Annie. Of course, something like that would never happen on the Broadway stage...

Our third installment from our interview with Bill Berloni will include more behind-the-scenes Annie stories (did Sunny really howl on stage?), and we'll also preview his latest project. And yes, it features a scruffy dog!


Pup Fan said...

Very cool interview!

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