New York (CBSNewYork) He trained the very first dog for the role of Sandy in the original Broadway production of Annie more than 35 years ago. Ever since, animal trainer Bill Berloni has been making stars out of rescues that would otherwise be put to sleep, and the current revival of Annie is no exception, with a lucky dog named Sunny saved from being euthanized at a shelter in Houston.
Now, Bill, Sunny and the show’s producers have teamed up with Pedigree Dog Food to launch “Sandy’s Rescue Pals“, a program that brings adoptable shelter dogs to the Palace Theatre during the Wednesday matinee performances. “The first 15 adopters get a year’s supply of dog food from Pedigree”, Berloni told 1010wins, “along with an adoption kit and what we’re calling a Bark Box full of goodies”
The program currently features the Queens-based group Bobbi & The Strays, whose shelter was damaged during hurricane Sandy. “Pedigree reached out and gave them a hundred thousand dollars to repair damages to the shelter”, says Berloni, “and we thought they would be a really good shelter to begin with. But it will be open to all shelters that are part of the Mayor’s Alliance For New York City’s Animals“. Sandy’s Rescue Pals is currently featuring only dogs, but Berloni says they hope to add cats in the near future.
He also reminds theatergoers that if you can’t adopt, you can support the cause simply by seeing the show. Pedigree is donating $2.00 from every Annie ticket sold to the Pedigree Foundation, which supports shelters across the country. That effort has already raised more than a million dollars.
“Glee” star Jane Lynch recently joined the cast in the role of the evil Miss Hannigan, and we just had to ask about her. “I don’t know if she wants this known”, Berloni joked, “she’s a heck of a lovely person in reality. Nothing like the character she plays in the show. She’s bringing us to a whole new audience, we’re getting a whole lot of people coming in saying how wonderful the show is, and we’re so excited to have Jane with us”.
Watch 1010 WINS’ Susan Richard’s video about broadway’s newest “Sandy”: