Since the musical's 1977 debut, all productions of Annie on Broadway have starred real-life shelter dogs as Sandy, with all of the dogs discovered and trained by 2011 Tony Award recipient William Berloni.
Continuing that tradition, Berloni has found and will train Sunny, a dog rescued from a shelter in Houston, to star as Sandy in the upcoming production, which will officially open Nov. 8 at the Palace Theatre. Casey, a dog rescued from a shelter near Nashville, TN, will be Sunny's understudy.
In anticipation of the musical's Broadway bow (wow), Sunny and Casey's journey from "hard-knock" shelter life to Broadway will be documented in a 30-minute TV special, "Annie's Search for Sandy," set to air on NBC-owned television stations in October 2012. The special, produced by Al Roker Entertainment and Annie Broadway LLC and sponsored by Pedigree Food for Dogs, will feature trainer Berloni.
"Annie is about a girl and her dog desperately seeking a place to call home, and we're hoping Sunny's story inspires audiences to consider adopting their next pet," said Annie producer Arielle Tepper Madover in a statement.
In an effort to promote dog adoption and provide shelters with resources, Pedigree and the Broadway production of Annie have teamed up to help raise $1 million to help dogs find loving homes. For each Annie ticket sold through Dec. 31, 2013, Pedigree will donate $2, up to $1 million, to Pedigree Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs find loving homes. Additionally, merchandise will be available at the theatre and online with proceeds going to the foundation.