It's the classic tale of the lovable red-headed orphan, Annie. But the real orphan in this production involves the dog playing the role of "Sandy" in the show.
On stage, he's making his debut as Annie's cuddly mutt, Sandy. But in real life, this one-year-old wire haired Visla mix named Barney is a shelter dog, looking for a place to call home.
Barney came to the Helen Woodward Animal Center three months ago -- the very day Starlight Theatre was casting. Trainer Rob Kuty from San Diego Pet Training put in countless hours training Barney, transforming him from a rambunctious shelter dog to an obedient showbiz star.
"The look definitely was right there and then after walking with him and working him a little bit, his personality fit and he just fit the bill," said Kuty. "He's very much tuned in and relaxed and he's eager to please."
Soon, there will be no more "hard knock life" for Barney. Immediately following the final show, he'll be available for adoption and the final curtain will fall on his showbiz days. There is a family who has started the adoption process, but so far, nothing is final.
It's been a happy but emotional transition for this orphan pup, who has melted the hearts of cast, crew, trainer and soon-to-be audience.
"It's just a very sweet thing to know this dog will have a home," said Dan Mojica, Director and Choreographer of Annie. "It's moving for everyone because the dog has been special to everyone in the cast."
The musical production of "Annie" opens at Starlight Theatre in Balboa Park Thursday, August 13 and runs through August 30. You can purchase your tickets online at StarlightTheatre.org or by calling 619-232-7827. Tickets start at just $10.