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A star is born

Local dogs show off their talent to win Drama Club role

Joann Verderosa works with her dog Vinny as he auditions for the role of Sandy in the Ballston Spa School District's production of Annie.

Joann Verderosa works with her dog Vinny as he auditions for the role of Sandy in the Ballston Spa School District's production of Annie. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Joann Verderosa said she wasn’t sure how her small, Jack Russell terrier named Vinny would do at an audition for live theater, but it couldn’t hurt to find out.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Ballston Spa Middle School Drama Club held auditions for local dogs to play the lead’s canine companion in this year’s production of “Annie.” More than 20 dogs tried out for the role of the little orphan’s sidekick, Sandy.

“We’re looking for a well-trained dog, who is good around kids,” said Co-Director Joe Shaver. “The dog also has to be comfortable in front of a crowd 1,000 people, and pretty.”

Also being auditioned was an understudy dog for Sandy and a group of runaway dogs that get chased by a dogcatcher during a scene.

For the audition, dogs were led on stage one at a time with their owner. After the dog became acclimated to being on stage and around the girls playing orphans, they then were asked to perform a few basic tricks and interact with 7th grader Emily Sargent, who stood in as Annie during the auditions.

Scenery and lighting director Pat Ferlo worked with the dogs and Sargent, as Shaver and his Co-Director Matt Lopez watched. This will be the fifth time Ferlo has been apart of an “Annie” production and the second time he has done doggy auditions to find the role of Sandy.

“You can tell as soon as they come in if they are right for the part,” said Ferlo. “So far all of them have been sociable and none have nipped at us, but they need to know the sequence of commands we need for this to work.”

Sandy’s big scene comes toward the middle of the production, according to Shaver. At one point Sandy is caught by the dogcatcher. Annie then calls out for Sandy, who escapes the dogcatcher’s grasp.

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