When Sandy (real name: Macy) runs through his paces onstage in Theatre Under the Stars’ upcoming production of the musical Annie, audiences should thank Bill Berloni, who’s animal trainer royalty and a behavior consultant to the Humane Society of New York. In 1976, then-aspiring actor Berloni was offered a deal with a Broadway show. “I was asked to train a dog in exchange for a part in one of the shows.” The dog should be “of an indistinguishable breed and a sandy color because that’s how it was referred to in the play,” he said. The first Sandy came from an animal shelter, a practice Berloni continues to this day, believing mutts are the best dogs to train. “A purebred dog was bred to do one thing well. The mixed breeds are more -balanced.”
Berloni, who set aside his acting career long ago, says he concentrates on positive reinforcement. “You can’t use intimidation or fear and then send the dog out onstage. Because the minute it gets out there, it’s going to run away,” he said.
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Leading the human side of the cast will be Sadie Sink of Brenham as the redheaded orphan who wins everyone’s hearts. Sink is a student at TUTS’ Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, which will be contributing a number of younger actors to this cast. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through April 1. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit www.tuts.com. $24 to $114.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 20. Continues through April 1, 2012