MOUNT VERNON — MTV Arts is setting the stage once again with this year’s production of Annie. On Saturday, auditions were held at the Harcourt Veterinary Clinic for the part of the adorable pet pal, Sandy.
Paula Miller, owner of Woody, was excited about the audition.
“Woody has no theatrical experience, but we thought after we were watching the movie and reading about Annie that he looked like Sandy,” she said. “He doesn’t right now because we had him shaved, but when his hair grows back he looks really shaggy, and has a dingy, shaggy look.”
For the auditions, the owners were asked to follow a series of commands of halting, turning and moving. The dogs were also escorted through a crowd to test their reaction to unfamiliar people, and gauge how sociable and friendly they were.
“I think he did OK for a beginner that hasn’t been formerly trained,” said Miller of the first auditon for Woody, a 1 1/2 year old Labradoodle.
Cori, a 5-year-old Shelton Sheep dog, was the other participant at the audition.
“I think he did pretty good,” said Lindsay Wertz, owner. “He’s so sociable, he gets along with everybody.”
Cori has participated in 4-H dog shows since the age of 1, although this year he will be retiring from the show.
“He’s placed every year he’s competed,” said Wertz, adding that he has has won awards in agility, obedience and companion, as well as canine good citizen.
“I think both dogs did a great job,” said Bruce Jacklin, artistic director for the production.
With the success of last year’s performance of Toto in the Wizard of Oz, the performing arts company was ready to do it again this year with Sandy.
It can be a challenge working with animal actors. Jacklin said that with the right resources and an experienced dog trainer, they will be ready and prepared for this year.
Toto’s performance was a learning experience, he said, but one that has prepared the cast for more in-depth presentations.
“I’ve learned that the key is not really the dog, it’s the owner,” said animal trainer Barbara Kurtz. “So whether I’m teaching a class of obedience or teaching for the theater, the owners are so important. If they take what I teach them, they have to take it and run with it because I’m not with the dog 24/7.”
Auditions will continue Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Memorial Theater for the leading role of Annie, as well as parts for the orphan characters. For more information visit www.mtvarts.com.