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As It Was: Dogs Compete for Role in “Two Gentlemen of Verona”

Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “Let Hercules himself do what he may. The cat will mew and the dog will have his day.” One of those days was in April, 1981, when the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland needed a dog for the play “Two Gentleman of Verona.”

The dog would play the character Crab, a dog listening and responding to the character Launce, played by J. Wesley Huston.

Some of the 20 dogs that came to audition left to search for their owners when director David Ostwald told the owners to leave.  Eight candidates were called back for a second audition.  One was Zira, a shaggy dog belonging to a youngster, Todd Bradshaw.

Another one, a long-haired white dog named Babes, was working with Huston when a camera clicked.  The dog pranced to the edge of the stage and began putting on a show for the camera.

Bystanders favored a small black dog missing a leg named Caroby, who seemed to respond well to Huston’s commands.

But it was Babes who landed the role.  He followed in the footsteps of the dog Teddy Seymour who had played Crab to festival founder Angus Bowmer’s Launce in 1957.

Source: Reiss, Al. "Barking for the Bard." Medford Mail Tribune, 19 Apr. 1981.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.