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Ruby the Rescue Dog, Making Acting Debut in Stages' Production of "Annie Jr."

Move over Rin Tin-tin and Lassie

Legendary actress Lana Turner was discovered in 1930 by a Hollywood publicist while she was sitting at a soda fountain at the Top Hat on Sunset Boulevard.

Ruby the dog was discovered at a local rescue shelter.

The late Ms. Turner and Ruby share one thing in common: acting.

Ruby, a golden retriever / Irish setter mix makes her theatrical debut on Friday, July 1, at Stages Theatre in downtown Hopkins in the role of Sandy, the sidekick of Little Orphan Annie in the theatre’s production of  “Annie Jr.”

“Ruby is owned by Shannon O’Black, our resident costume designer, who got the dog a few years ago from a local rescue shelter,” said Danielle Ryan, spokesperson for Stages. “We needed a dog to play Sandy and Ruby was available and a good fit.”

Sandy Boren-Barrett, the company’s artistic director and the director of “Annie Jr., said there was no casting call in which 40 to 50 dogs showed up in hopes of being selected for the lead canine role.

“Shannon knew we would need a dog in the show, approached me and suggested Ruby,” Boren-Barrett said.  “She is a strong advocate of rescue shelter dogs and feels having Ruby in the play brings attention to what good pets they can be.”

Having any animal in a live production poses unique problems and Ruby is no different than any other dog.

“Dogs have sensitive hearing and eyesight and there are many things which can distract them in a live performance, “Boren-Barrett said.

“She is on stage for one big scene and that is the famous one where Annie (played by Tori Adams) sings the hit, “Tomorrow.”

The rest of the performance she is off stage and while there, is under the supervision and care of a full-time dog handler.

“Ruby is really amazing and she just loves being around kids as well as everyone associated with the production,” said Boren-Barrett.

The play is titled “Annie Jr.” because it is a shortened version of the Broadway version, which runs over two hours.

“Our is about 65 minutes long which is good for families, especially ones with younger children.”

Tickets are available at the Stages Theatre, 111 Mainstreet, in downtown Hopkins, by call 952-979-1111 or by visiting www.stagestheatre.com

The show runs from July 1 through Aug. 7. However there are no performances July 13 through July 19 because of the Hopkins Raspberry Festival.

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