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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.

— “But Sandy isn’t the dog’s real name.” said Shaver. “Sandy has to come when she’s called in the scene when she’s called, because if she doesn’t it’s bad news for Sandy,” he joked.

That’s why the directors decided to hold auditions so early. Opening night isn’t until Feb. 3, but that leaves plenty of time for the selected dog to get used to the actors and learn its temporary name.

Despite the worries of Vinny’s owner, he did well during his audition. He was able to sit, stay, come when called and stand for a treat. He also interacted well with the actors.

“I’m not a dog trainer, but he’s my dog and he reacts to me well,” said the Clifton Park resident.

Verderosa said she’s trying to get Vinny into dog modeling, so if he wins the role it will be good practice for his future career. He currently is contracted with an agency in the Hudson Valley and recently landed his first job.

“We did a photo shoot for Oprah Magazine last week,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

Stacey Walz, a kindergarten teacher at Wood Road Elementary School, brought in her black Boston terrier named Toga to try for the role.

“He’s just such a good dog, we thought it would be fun for our family and friends to see him up on stage,” she said. “Plus, I bring him into school a lot so he’s pretty famous with the students.”

Eleven-year-old Toga – named after Saratoga – faired well during his audition by responding to his owners and the directors when they called.

Abby, who played Toto during the district’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” several years ago, also tried out, but not for the role of Sandy.

“I don’t think she would be as Sandy because she’s not good with commands,” said Abby’s owner and Joe’s mother, Barb Shaver. “We’re trying her for the role of a runaway because she’s basically just good at being cute.”

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