'Once Upon A Mattress' - Dogs land roles in musical, escape the noose

Published on Friday, 25 July 2014 00:03 - Written by From Staff Reports

Two dogs were whisked out of harm’s way when Henderson County Performing Arts Center decided to use them in its upcoming production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” They are being trained to appear onstage as the queen’s canine escorts during the show.

“Bear and Charlie were scheduled to be euthanized the next day when we found them,” HCPAC Executive Director Marcia Colbert said. “Working with the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake, we were able to save the dogs and are currently looking for homes for them following the run of the show. They are beautiful, sweet animals but also inseparable, so whoever adopts would need to take them both.”

This is not the first time HCPAC has worked with dogs on stage. “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Last Romance,” two recent productions, both required dogs to be able to perform on stage

“It is tricky having a live animal onstage with dozens of actors, bright lights and large audiences,” Colbert said.

“Sometimes there is singing and dancing going on, as well. The animals have to be trained to stay calm and obey their commands on and off stage in spite of all the distractions.”

Usually, an actor plays the pet’s owner and must bond with the animal but someone else must get the animal on and off stage on its cues, she said.

“Once Upon a Mattress,” an adaptation of the children’s story “The Princess and the Pea,” is set for Aug. 7 through 16 at the center, 400 Gibson Road, Athens. For more information, call 903-675-3908 or go towww.hcpac.org .