Arena Stage is looking for a small local pup to play Cheeky in its upcoming production of the classic Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, opening in November. For the first time in the theater’s history, Arena announced a canine casting call (accepting applications until September 17). The official doggie audition will take place on September 22.
“Having a dog onstage is really exciting,” says Arena casting director Victor Vazquez. “It’s about getting to see a dog’s personality. This musical is raucous, a lot of fun, and we wanted to have fun with the casting.” Vazquez and artistic director Molly Smith wanted a local dog instead of opting for one from New York or LA. For the casting panel, they decided to invite two other Washingtonians to join: Ashley Valm, a behavior specialist from the DC Humane Rescue Alliance, and local Instagrammer Emily Abril, who’s behind the popular @sebastianlovesluna.
“It was important to have a behavior specialist,” says Vazquez. “I don’t have a pet myself, so I wouldn’t even know how to evaluate a dog other than its cuteness!” Valm will be helping to administer a stress test and other tasks to determine whether the auditioning pup will be comfortable onstage. It’s not just any musical—Anything Goes is known for its loud tap dancing, so Cheeky would need to be adaptable.
The dog star-to-be needs to be 20 pounds or smaller (so that a cast member could hold the pup in her arms or bag), hypoallergenic, well-behaved, and okay with noise. Arena has already received over 15 doggie applicants—and if you’re curious about the candidates, check out their *adorable* head shots.
If you’re thinking of sending in an application for your own doggo, Abril recommends that she or he be comfortable in a variety of settings. Your pup doesn’t need to have previous acting experience, either. “Make sure the dog has a calm energy,” says Abril. “They want dogs that can handle basic commands and are comfortable with loud noises.”
The theater is also open to having two dogs cast for the role and arranging a schedule that works for both sets of puppy parents. Plus, there will definitely be compensation. “The dog and parent will enter a contract just like any performer would,” says Vazquez. “We want to pay our artists, it’s part of the process.”
“This is not something that comes around in the DC area often,” Abril says to any Washingtonians considering submitting their dog. “At least try—this might be the start of some dog’s Hollywood career.”