A Broadway favorite, Annie tells the classic story of a fiery redheaded orphan on a quest to find her parents. Although her tale is a familiar one, less well-known is the story behind Sandy, Annie’s adorable dog.
As they say, there are no small parts, only small actors. In this case, the latter is true.
Sunny, a 4-year-old terrier mix rescued from Houston, and Macy, who spent time in a prison dog training program, play the part of Sandy in the national tour of Annie, which runs through July 5 at Winspear Opera House. Most of the pups that have played the part of Sandy over the years (including the dog featured in the latest big-screen Annie remake) learned their tricks from famous animal trainer William (Bill) Berloni.
An aspiring actor at the time, Berloni agreed to find and train a dog to play Sandy in the original 1976 stage production of Annie. Through persistence, patience, and old-fashioned trial and error, he developed his own humane training techniques. His original Sandy spent seven years on Broadway.
Nearly 40 years later, he’s a recognized expert in dog behavior (whose work has been seen in theater, television and films) and a committed animal rescue advocate. All of the animals he’s recruited to play the part of Sandy in Annie over the years, including the original dog, were rescued. When the canines retire from acting, Berloni gives them a home on his large Connecticut farm.
With cute dogs and cute kids, is it any wonder that Annie still has mass appeal nearly 40 years after its stage debut? It’s a rags-to-riches story set to a memorable soundtrack of catchy songs that will have you believing in fairy tales.
Tickets for Annie start at $30. But, sorry, no dogs allowed!