Annie | The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Meet Sandy, the Scene Stealer from ‘ANNIE’

Casting animals on Broadway is difficult—finding animals and then training them to not miss their cues is even harder work! The scene-stealing Sandys performing in our Thanksgiving weekend run of the classic, Tony Award-winning production ANNIE were trained by Bill Berloni, widely recognized expert in animal behavior and master of Theatrical Animals, Inc.

Bill Berloni was a 20-year-old apprentice at the Goodspeed Opera House when a producer offered him his big break: a chance to act professionally and gain his Actors Equity Card. In return, all Bill had to do was find and train a dog to play Sandy in the original production of ANNIE, in 1976. Simple, right? Think again.

What Bill didn’t know was that this charge was a bigger challenge than it seemed. Animal performances in movies or television can be stitched together using different takes, different camera angles, and even different animals. But to perform in a featured role, onstage? An animal actor would have to be trained to ignore distractions and respond to the same cues the same way nigh-after-night.

Bill found his dog at a local animal shelter–beginning his career-long commitment to using rescued animals. Through a combination of patience and trial-and-error, he developed his revolutionary humane training techniques—learning how to teach actor and animal, alike, to create a successful performance. ANNIE became a huge hit and Sandy became “the longest running dog on Broadway,” never missing a performance in more than seven years.

So, without further a-do, meet your Little Orphans Sandy!

Annie | The Long Center for the Performing ArtsReal name: SUNNY
Age: 5
Birthplace: Farm outside of Houston, TX
Breed: All-American Sandy Dog Mix
Offstage hobbies: Carving art sculptures out of dog toys
Pre-show ritual: Yoga, downward dog really relaxes me
Stage debut: ANNIE Broadway 2013
Funny memory:
Barking at the giant dog over the marquee of the Palace Theatre in New York until I realized it was a picture of me!

Annie | The Long Center for the Performing ArtsReal name: MACY
Age:
7
Birthplace:
Oklahoma City, OK
Breed: All-American Sandy Dog Mix
Offstage hobbies:
Sunbathing inside or outside
Pre-show ritual:
Holding hands with my co-stars to get focused
Stage debut:
Connecticut Community Theater Production of ANNIE starring Dorothy and Jenna Berloni
Funny memory: When Bill Berloni found me I was being held at Dalmatian Rescue of Oklahoma. Up until then I thought I was a Dalmatian!

Now enjoying a life of fame and fortune, Sunny and Macy are excited to continue their third year on tour with this production of ANNIE. And, of course, they dedicate each performance to all the homeless pets that need a chance to shine.

Be sure to take special note of Sunny and Macy on the Long Center stage in their featured role of Sandy, appearing in ANNIE November 25 – 26!

Posted in Behind the Curtain, Featured Posts |

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