As the story of little orphan Annie prepares for the Park Theater stage this week, there’s the real-life story of little orphan Violet who has a role in the show.
Violet was rescued just over a year ago from her orphanage – Warren County Animal Control. She’s the dog of play director Logan Taylor and she’ll appear in two scenes of “Annie Jr.”
“This is the first time I’ve had a dog in one of my shows and it was a hard decision to make,” said Taylor. “We kept asking, ‘Do we want to use a real dog in the show?’ and we finally decided to give it a try. She’s not a trained dog. She knows how to sit. Doggie treats speak volumes with her.”
While it can be trying to get actors to perform as desired, getting a dog to understand its role opens a new suitcase of challenges. That’s where the dog treats come in handy to coax Violet in the right direction.
“She’s calm and that’s part of the reason I knew she’d do so well,” said Taylor of 5-year-old Violet. “She has been to a majority of our practices and she just loves being around the kids. We allow her to have her own special area.”
The story of Annie tells of the struggles of an 11-year-old orphan growing up in the 1930s. While not human, those struggles were real for four-legged Violet.
“She was rescued from a severely abusive home,” said Taylor. “She was extremely underweight and skittish. Once I adopted her, I worked with her on social skills like not being as timid or shy. She’s now a vibrant dog who so enjoys being on stage.”
Violet will be playing the role of Sandy, the stray dog Annie befriends after she runs away from the orphanage. Violet will be appearing in two scenes.
“She’s in the iconic scene with the song ‘Tomorrow,’” said Taylor. “And she makes a cameo at the end of the show when Warbucks reunites Sandy and Annie.”
Taylor said having a real dog play the role of Sandy adds a touching element that couldn’t have been attained otherwise. To ensure Violet gets to her proper spots in the production, Leela Beaty is her handler during the musical and will be accompanying her on stage.
“Violet is essentially a prop,” said Taylor. “We have to make sure she’s in the right place at the right time.”
There will be four showings of “Annie Jr.” next week at the Park Theater. The musical runs Thursday, Aug. 18 thru Saturday, Aug. 20. Tickets are still available.