It’s a first for me and the dog – we are making our live stage debut with McGee’s participation in the Garden City Production of Legally Blonde!
The stage play is pretty true to the original movie, though for obvious reasons the number of appearances by the dogs in the cast are somewhat fewer. Still, Bruiser’s first appearance is a mere five minutes into the first act! The role calls for the chihuahua actor to run up to Margot, one of Elle’s friends, to let her know his mumz in trouble.
BRUISER the chihuahua walks out,. Confused hubbub
Margot: “Bruiser, where’s Elle?”
Margot: “She doesn’t have an engagement outfit?”
Margot: “She’s totally freaking out?”
Margot: “She’s trapped in the old valley mill?”
Margot: “Oh sorry, the Old Valley Mall”
(All relieved. Then gasp.)
Seems easy enough – ask McGee to run to his mark on stage, bark four times, run off stage. Except he is a DOG actor! That means whatever we are asking him to do, he’s got to do amidst an environment that is loud, chaotic, full of strangers both on stage back stage and staring from the audience, and do it like he means it!
He’s got a few more walk-ons during the first act where he has to move with the actress Emily who plays lead character Elle Woods, get carried around in a handbag and we don’t know what all else. We are starting full run throughs this week.
Needless to say, as trainer mum (vs stage mum!) I have been prowling the Inter-webs all week, watching and reading up on operant conditioning, positive reinforcement training, putting behaviours on cue, and sweating the details of managing the thrill and the terror of putting a 5 pound pup in stage lights.
Thanks to Candice Shute of Sit Down and Stay dog training, who recommended us to the producers. We look to her generous stage dog training guidance to help make this experience the best it can be! Her own pup Sail will be playing the dog actor role of Rufus in this same production. Find out more about her excellent school here http://sitdownandstay.com/
If you are interested in seeing how this all comes together, come on over and see the show! Tickets via Garden City Productions https://gcp.ca/tickets/