Fluffy friends join Shakespeare cast in latest production

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Cait Donohue sits with her dog, Teddy, on stage with the rest of the cast during the post-production talk.

Cassidy Washburn, Staff Writer

Two fluffy dogs, Teddy and Marco, weave in and out of cast members’ laps, tripping over scripts with their tails held high in the air. Students run their hands through their curly fur, letting their muscles relax, as they watch them bounce around.

There were two dogs cast in this year’s Shakespeare play, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and they helped to create a calm environment. However, at times they could be a bit distracting.

The play had a live dog written into the script, so when director Mary Mastandrea was planning the show, she said the decision was not a difficult one.

Another dog is also mentioned in the original script. The other dog was generally not seen on stage, but Mastandrea could not decide between Marco and Teddy, so she decided to cast both.

“We literally auditioned several of the cast members’ dogs, to see who would and would not be startled to be on stage. You knew if dogs barked too much, that would be problem,” Mastandrea said.

Junior Cait Donahue was excited when she heard about the dog auditions, so she had her dog Teddy, a goldendoodle, audition.

“When we first auditioned, Mary was like, ‘We need a dog’ and I was like, ‘Mary! I got one,’ and that ended up turning into two dogs,” Donahue said.

However, having live animals at rehearsals was not always easy and would quickly distract the cast and crew.

“What it does, which is unfortunate, is totally pull focus because everybody wants to play with the dogs, and you can’t put the dogs too close together because then they start barking,” Mastandrea said.

Because the two dogs were only in four scenes, they stayed in the white box with the door closed during rehearsals. They were only brought on stage when they were a part of a scene.

Junior Devasha Solomon played Rosa in the production.

“It is a challenge. You need to make sure the dog is doing all the right things, but I think they also add to the energy of the scene,” Solomon said.

Though both dogs were well-behaved, actors had to adjust to interacting with animals on stage.

“I think it’s an interesting, new experience to be on stage with an animal. You have to not only work with yourself, but also to make sure the animals are not going crazy,” Solomon said.

Overall, the students greatly enjoyed having pets with them during rehearsal.

“It was really distracting at first, but now I think it has become like a therapy dog thing. They’ll kind of just wander around, while we’re giving notes and everybody will pet them,” Donahue said. “I think at first it was very distracting and it was very weird to work with them, even though it was super fun. Now it’s still fun, and we just have some good ol’ dogs there.”

The two dogs changed the atmosphere of the play and helped everyone on set relax and come closer together.

“Everybody loves the dogs and they’re charming, and they sort of bring camaraderie to the cast and crew because everyone wants to gather around these dogs,” Mastandrea said. “It is just a problem of trying not to just watch the dogs and staying focused on on what we’re trying to do.”