Canine casting call for Annie

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 16:21 03/03/2014
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

Wellington Dogs line up to Audition for a role in Annie the Musical.

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It's a hard dog's life for the canines waiting for their shot at a role in stage musical Annie.

Eight dogs and their nervous owners sat patiently in a waiting room at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington today for their name to be called to the first round of auditions for the British production.

Most of the cast and crew will be coming from Britain for the shows in Auckland and Wellington - but Annie, the orphans and Sandy the dog will be played by New Zealanders.

Associate director Jonny Bowles said there were a couple of good contenders for Sandy in Wellington today, but putting the dogs through their paces a second time would be the true test.

The dog has to be able to complete basic commands such as sitting, staying, coming when asked but also to be undistracted by kids and noise.

''It's interesting to see how every dog is different. We can very quickly see what's going to work and what's not.''

It seems a lot of work for a dog, but Mr Bowles said those few, unscripted moments Sandy has on stage are one of the parts that the audience enjoys the most.

Labradoodle Ramble, probably the dog to most closely resemble the Sandy used in the 1982 movie, charms with his ability to follow orders -- for treats, of course.

''He needs something to do, rather than running around in circles all day,'' said owner John Lewis on why he brought him to the audition.

Fourteen year-old Mary Bishop was there with mum Karen and their dog Jellybean: ''We wanted Jellybean to become famous so everyone will know her.... because she's very good with people and she's beautiful.''

Hopeful Julie Watson was there with golden retriever Floyd. She reckons he has the X-factor -- but is worried about all 38kg of him jumping into Annie's arms.

''I think Floyd has got star quality and I thought it might be a bit of fun. Floyd loves doing things, he talks, he loves children.'' 

Loryn Bennett and Bam Blaikie are there with four-year-old Fish, looking the part with a red kerchief around his neck. Already a therapy dog, they reckon Fish could be a ''bit of a star'' and might like to follow in Loryn's footsteps -- she once played Annie.

Annie will be staged at St James Theatre in Wellington from May 23 to June 8.

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- The Dominion Post

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