By Agnes CONSTANTE
When Copper, an 11-year-old golden retriever chow mix, takes the stage at the Glendale Center Theatre, all eyes are on him.
Copper stars as Sandy in the Glendale Centre Theatre’s production of “Annie,” which runs until June 30.
Rebecca Thomas, a junior at Crescenta Valley High School, and her father Robert star alongside their dog Copper in the musical at the Glendale theater. Rebecca plays the role of Ronnie Boylan and is part of the ensemble, while Robert has taken on multiple roles.
In the production, Robert plays the part of Lt. Ward, Judge Brandis and a Marine, and was also the dog handler. Although he was dealing with the family’s dog, Robert had to teach Copper to do multiple things for “Annie.”
“At first it was hard to train him, but he works well with treats,” Robert said.
One of the actions Copper had to do was run on stage by himself to search for Annie when she drops her hat. Robert also had to train his dog to remain calm inside a box during the last scene, where he runs out as Christmas present to Annie once it’s opened.
Although there were difficulties in directing Copper, Robert successfully trained him to play the role of Sandy smoothly.
“Annie” was Copper’s stage debut, and was also Robert’s Glendale Centre Theatre stage debut.
Robert, who is also an alternate member on the Crescenta Valley Town Council, admitted to having stage fright the first night.
“On the third night I calmed down and since then it’s been okay,” he said.
While “Annie” was the first time Copper and Robert had taken the stage, theatre is nothing foreign for Rebecca, who began acting when she was 5 years old. She previously played Tessie in “Annie,” and as she wraps up her junior year, her current role as a Boylan sister is another character added to her belt of credits that include Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Brigitta in “Sound of Music,” and Felicity and Molly in “The American Girl Revue.”
Assistant director Kelly Flynn, who worked with Rebecca in her first “Annie” production in 2006, said it’s always a joy to work with the Thomas family.
“They’re a fun, upbeat, positive family and great to be around … They’re a showbiz family but they’re also very down-to-earth and you don’t get that a lot of times,” he said.
Rehearsals for plays require a certain time commitment. In this case, preparation took three to four days per week from about 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for four and a half weeks. But Rebecca has learned to juggle it along with her academic responsibilities.
“Since I’ve been doing this since I was little, I’ve learned to balance my school work and rehearsals, so I do my school work on my way in the car,” she said.
She intends to continue down this career path when she goes to college.
“I love theater. I couldn’t imagine not doing a show because I’ve been pretty consistent with doing shows. And when I’m not, I’m in drama at school,” she said.
More information on show times for “Annie” is available at http://www.glendalecentretheatre.com/mainstage/annie.