In previous productions of the musical — including the first televised version in 1955 — Nana, the dog belonging to the Darling children, has been played by an actor in a dog suit. And Peter Pan has been played by a woman
Tonight, as per usual, Peter will be played by a woman, Allison Williams of HBO’s “Girls.” But instead of an actor, and despite it being a live production, executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan decided to go with a real dog for the role of Nana.
Making his debut is 20-month-old Bowdie, a rescued gray Poodle mix whose pet parents happen to be theatrical animal trainers Bill and Dorothy Berloni. (Bowdie has a lookalike understudy, just in case.)
When he was 19 years old, Bill trained the original Sandy — a rescued pound pup — for the Broadway production of “Annie.” Coming full circle, he also trained the Sandy for the new “Annie” movie musical.
Bill only uses rescue dogs. “When I was assigned to find the first Sandy, there was no budget for it, and somebody said they have cheap dogs at the pound,” he told Classicalite. “The day I went looking was an eye-opening experience. I had never been to an animal shelter. I never knew that animals were abandoned and abused and had an expiration date when they’d be put to sleep. That day, I made a promise to myself that if I ever got a dog I would get a rescue dog.”
Bowdie is already prepared for his next role. He will appear in a new musical version of the movie “Because of Winn-Dixie,” opening in April 2015 at the Delaware Theatre Company.
As with the live production of “The Sound of Music” last year, a lot of people are expected to “hate watch” the broadcast of “Peter Pan Live” tonight and trash it on social media. Don’t be like Peter Pan and grow up, people! (Those haters may turn into lovers once they see Nana.)
Break a paw, Bowdie!
“Peter Pan Live” airs on NBC tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT (it’s not exactly “live” on the West Coast).
Photo via Twitter