Rescue pup makes stage debut

Shelter dog Cardi to appear in Foothill production

There are no small parts, the old saying goes, only small actors. This month, the stars of Foothill Music Theatre's production of "Bullets Over Broadway" may find themselves in danger of being upstaged by an adorable 5-pound performer making her stage debut.

Cardi, a 6-month-old chihuahua available for adoption through nonprofit Pets in Need, has been cast in the small but memorable role of "Mr. Woofles" in the musical comedy, based on the Woody Allen film.

"I did warn all the actors that when she's on stage no one will be looking at them," director Milissa Carey joked, describing Cardi's winsome habit of cocking her head when spoken to. Credit for Cardi's discovery goes to "Bullets Over Broadway" cast member Carla Befera, who suggested finding a rescue dog to play Mr. Woofles in the hopes of bringing awareness to local animal shelters and organizations, Carey said.

Befera, who also heads the publicity firm Carla Befera & Company, reached out to her connections to find a dog with a temperament suitable for working on stage. Pets in Need, the Redwood City-based organization that recently expanded to take over operating the Palo Alto Animal Shelter, suggested giving little Cardi a try.

"We're thrilled that Cardi has the opportunity to share the stage with such amazing talent," said Al Mollica, executive director of Pets in Need. "Just months ago, before we brought her to Pets In Need, she was at a municipal animal shelter in danger of being euthanized and now she's a star. It just goes to show how giving an animal a second chance can transform their life and bring joy to people in unexpected ways."

To keep demands on Cardi light, she appears in just two scenes and rests backstage in her own cozy area during her downtime. Befera is fostering the pup, who's generally mellow and happy to settle into a lap or chair but also fond of chew toys. Befera said she's tempted to adopt Cardi herself but an important member of her family — her cat — is not yet convinced.

If Befera or one of the other cast and crew members does not end up adopting her, Cardi will be available for interested parties after closing night on March 17. In the meantime, theatergoers can see her moment in the spotlight.

"We are hoping that Cardi's debut in 'Bullets Over Broadway' will bring her to a beautiful new home," Carey said.

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