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Shelter dog to star as Sandy in Broadway revival of 'Annie'

July 20, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • L.A. native Lilla Crawford will play Annie and Sunny, a terrier mix adopted from a shelter, will play Sandy in the new Broadway production of "Annie."
L.A. native Lilla Crawford will play Annie and Sunny, a terrier mix adopted… (Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus…)

The pup chosen to star as Sandy in the Broadway revival of "Annie" has been announced -- and it's (appropriately) a rags-to-riches story.

Four months ago, animal trainer William Berloni spotted online photos of Sunny, a 2-year-old female terrier mix, while conducting a nationwide search for the part.

The Houston pound holding Sunny incorrectly listed her as a male by the name Bruno. When Berloni learned the dog was due to bei euthanized, he decided to adopt Sunny, not for the role, but to find her a home.

"I didn't think she was a candidate for Sandy," he told the Associated Press.

Berloni had a change of heart when the pair got nose-to-nose in New York. "I met her and went, 'Wow, she could really be a candidate,' " he said. "She's going to be fantastic."

"Annie" begins previews on Oct. 3 and will open on Nov. 8 at the Palace Theatre with 11-year-old Los Angeles native Lilla Crawford in the title role.

Berloni, whose Broadway credits include "Legally Blonde" (remember Bruiser?), "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Wizard of Oz," found the original Sandy under similar circumstances.

In 1976, Berloni spent $7 to rescue a dog from a shelter a day before it was to be euthanized. The pup went on to play almost all 2,377 Broadway performances of "Annie," and Berloni cast other rescue dogs for the show's national tour and anniversary productions.

"The most talented animals are right there under your nose," he said. "The message is: Animals in shelters are not damaged, just unfortunate."

To help more dogs find homes, dog food company Pedigree has teamed with the upcoming Broadway production to donate $2 for each ticket sold -- up to a total of $1 million -- through the end of the year to animal-focused nonprofit organizations.

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