Back in the '70s, Bill Berloni wanted desperately to make it as an actor. "But those were teenage dreams," he tells us. While apprenticing one summer at a theater, he was told that he would receive his Equity Card and a stage part -- if he could buy, feed and train a dog for an upcoming production of Annie (all for $35, by the way). "I found the original Sandy," he says. "That's where my career began."
These days, Bill is still working with Annie on Broadway -- now, for the 35th anniversary production of the show. He currently owns and works with two dogs who play the part of Annie's beloved pooch, Sandy: Sunny, and her understudy, Casey. Plus, he has many more at home; as he tells us, "we own 23 dogs who are in various stages of their performing career."
We talk with Bill about his long career as a trainer for the stage and screen, about how he succeeds in getting his animals to perform alongside actors, and about how training cats is markedly different from training dogs.
Plus, we hear about a musical adaptation of the book "Because of Winn Dixie" that Bill is currently developing with his wife, Dorothy, for the stage -- and we get a preview of some of the music by singer-songwriter and composer Duncan Sheik.