When Annie Met Sandy
“All it took was a few bites of hot dog from Nina, and Sherman was in love.”
It’s a classic story of a girl and her dog. But unlike in the musical Annie, where Sandy follows her home after she saves him from the dogcatcher, Nina Nakahashi and Sherman began their story in the Beaverton City Hall courtyard over a few bites of hot dog. Creating that heartwarming connection onstage and developing trust between Annie & Sandy would take more than a onetime treat and play session. It would consist of convincing both of them that they belonged together.
To tell the story accurately, “We need the audience to believe that this is Annie and Sandy and that connection must be genuine. Sherman needs to trust Nina and listen to her just like any human acting partner,” said director and Beaverton Civic Theatre Producing Artistic Director.
So, she enlisted Annie stage manager, Annie Wach (affectionately called AW by the cast and crew to avoid confusion with the title character), who had a background working in veterinary hospitals and dog training to find the perfect Sandy and spearhead a plan for them to become comfortable with each other. Though a few dogs were considered, one quickly rose above the pack.
“I participated in community theatre as a kid, so I followed BCT on Facebook when I moved to Beaverton, hoping to participate in a show,” said Kylie Foster, owner of a large, cuddly, and hilarious golden-doodle. “Since everyone I know always told me Sherman looks like the perfect Sandy, I knew we had to audition when BCT announced the production!”
Once Sandy was selected, the real work began.
“She was nervous but interested in interacting with him and he’s a genuine people pleaser.”
Wach says of Nina and Sherman’s first meeting. “He’s big, boisterous…a young guy still looking for someone else to be the boss, and so we need Nina to get comfortable around him enough to provide that guidance. [To start off,] I had them walk around the City Hall courtyard a bit and have Sherman show us some of his tricks. He was a very good boy!”
Nina, who is playing the role of Annie, has never had a dog of her own. “Meeting Sherman was incredibly nerve-wracking. At first, all I could see was how large he was, and I’ll admit I was intimidated… [but] having Sherman as my “part-time dog” is wonderful! Although he may be big, Sherman is super sweet. I think it took some time for both of us to get comfortable with one another, but once we did, we were really able to start connecting. I’m learning to do a bunch of fun tricks with him.”
Her favorite? “That’s a hard one. You might not see it in the show, but Sherman can high five! There is another trick we might use, but that one will be a surprise.”
Over the next few weeks, Nina and Sherman will meet for playful practice time together that includes learning the movements needed for the performance, walks, cuddles, and, of course, lots of treats. Each time they get together, the bond becomes closer.
“Nina gets a big giant Sherman hug every time they see each other!” Foster says.
See Nina and Sherman in action (and maybe that surprise trick) in Annie at Beaverton Civic Theatre December 1st- 17th| $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $5 for youth | Tickets are available online at beavertoncivictheatre.org