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Brewer bulldogge cast as Sandy in musical Annie'

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BANGOR - Hundreds of individuals have auditioned for various plays and musicals at The Penobscot Theatre, but none have had quite the look, confidence and strut of Zuzu. This Olde English Bulldogge from Brewer will be playing Sandy, the lovable sidekick of little orphan Annie in the musical of the same name. The production will run from Dec. 5-29 at the theater on Main Street.

"We didn't have our heart set for Zu to be Sandy; it was just something fun [to do]," said Brian Sturgeon, Zuzu's owner. "I was surprised how well she did [during auditions] being only 2 or 2 years old and having gone through obedience class."

The original Sandy was an Airedale Terrier, while an Otterhound played the role in the 1982 version of the movie. Penobscot Theatre's Artistic Director Bari Newport wasn't looking for any breed in particular to fill the role.

"Zuzu is a star. She's a bulldog, and that isn't what one would immediately think of for Sandy. It's an unexpected choice, which is interesting for theater," explained Newport.

Approximately 18 pooches turned out to audition for the role in August, but only five were called back for a second look.

"She had to be up on stage with a light on her, walk through two rows of girls without being distracted, and then she had to sit on one side of the stage, and she did that well," said Sturgeon. "She also had to sit and stay while the girls walked around her."

Don Hanson of the Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor conducted the auditions. He'll also be the one training Zuzu for her new role.

"The trainer is going to give us lots to do with her at home to help out," said Sturgeon. "She'll have 25 shows and lots of rehearsal to go to. It'll be a time commitment, but it'll be fun."

Originally, Newport was hoping to cast two dogs as Sandy, but in the end she chose Zuzu to be the one and only pooch to fill those paws for each and every show.

"It is a big commitment. But Brian has his parents involved and they'll be schlepping the dog here over Christmas. It's been a family-coordinated effort on their end to make this happen," said Newport.

And although her debut is still several weeks away, Zuzu is already turning heads.

"She's definitely a very popular dog. She already has a Facebook page and her picture is hanging up at Geaghan's pub where I work," explained Sturgeon. "I had someone at the bank yesterday say, 'Don't you have a famous dog?' So she's taken on a life of her own and she's got her own personality."

Newport is very excited for the show and for Zuzu to be a part of the cast.

"As a dog lover myself, an opportunity to have dog on stage is a gift," she said.

Newport also plans to use the show to shine a spotlight on other dogs too.

"The Humane Society will be showcasing a dog at every performance of 'Annie.' We have an inner lobby where we'll have more information about the Humane Society too," said Newport.

For more information on Penobscot Theatre's production of 'Annie,' including show times and ticket prices, log on to


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