Sure, 12-year-old Celina Smith was amazing in the title role of “Annie Live!” that aired on NBC last night. But for dog lovers like me, equally adorable was Macy, the pooch playing the part of Sandy. Unfortunately, Macy got to strut her scruffy stuff in just a couple of heartwarming scenes.
This wasn’t Macy’s first rodeo, er, live theater production. Since being rescued from Rocky Spot Dalmatian Rescue in Oklahoma and adopted by dog trainer Bill Berloni, Macy has appeared in more productions of “Annie” than any other four-legged actor.
And if Berloni’s name rings a bell, it’s because he rescued and trained the very first Sandy for the original Broadway production of “Annie” 45 years ago. Ever since then, Berloni has continued to train the dogs for all “Annie” revivals, Broadway World reports.
Seven years ago, Berloni trained the rescued gray Poodle mix named Bowdie who stole the show as Nana in “Peter Pan Live,” also on NBC. It was the first time that a dog rather than a human played the part of Nana.
Besides the wrinkly bald cap that Harry Connick, Jr. wore as Daddy Warbucks, the main criticism by viewers and reviewers was that the production needed more Sandy. A lot more Sandy.
“Note to TV producers: You cannot introduce an absolutely adorable and well-behaved dog in the first half-hour and then have the dog just … disappear,” wrote Emily Yahr in the Washington Post. Amen to that!
“Live animals are notoriously hard to wrangle for these types of things, so the fact that Sandy didn’t cause any hiccups is an early Christmas miracle,” Maureen Lee Lenker and Lauren Huff wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “Our only complaint? The fact he wasn’t in every frame of the show.” Right?!
“‘Annie’ benefited from its sheer unpretentiousness, offering the can’t-miss (or at least miss entirely) combination of cute kids, buoyant dance numbers, a little girl with a big voice, that trademark red dress, and of course a very well-trained dog who shows up just long enough to make everyone swoon,” Brian Lowry noted on CNN. True, but it definitely wasn’t long enough!
Well, if they gave Emmy awards for special appearances by dogs in live musical productions, Macy would surely be honored. Brava, Smith and Macy!