Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars
By: Bill Berloni
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Publication Date: June 2008
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: May 2009
For fans of Broadway plays and animals, Bill Berloni’s book Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars is the perfect escape. Berloni has trained some of the most famous four-legged stars of New York City and he shares his wisdom on how he coaxed some amazing performances out of these animals.
Berloni starts his book by recounting the early days in summer stock at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Having just finished his first year of college, Berloni was excited for what appeared to be a summer of acting. Soon, he was called into the producer’s office. Fearing the worst, Berloni was relieved to learn that the producer simply wanted to know if he’d be willing to train a dog for an upcoming production of Annie. Berloni agreed (how hard can it be to train a dog?) but when he learned there was no budget to buy a dog, nor train it, Berloni began to regret his decision.
Broadway Tails recounts the successful training of Sandy, a dog Berloni found at a local humane society pound. When asked to bring Sandy to Broadway for Annie, Berloni is thrilled until he is asked to work under the tutelage of an established dog trainer. “His training method was all about intimidation. He showed me how to use a metal choke collar on a dog – I remember him dragging Sandy away from me and turning quickly and jerking the collar, which flipped Sandy over. I was horrified…I learned a lot about how I wouldn’t train dogs.” The rest of the book shows how Berloni trained various animals, including pigs, llamas and birds, with love and understanding.
Broadway Tails is a fun, quick read about life behind the curtain. Berloni has a talent for finding dogs nobody wants and turning them into happy, productive animals. Along with Sandy, who was scheduled to be euthanized the day Berloni adopted him, the author discovered Vito, a bull terrier who had been part of a dog-fighting ring. It was unclear if this massive dog would perform, especially after it was discovered that he was deaf. But one day Berloni was playing with a flashlight on stage and Vito started following it right through a whole scene’s worth of action. Vito officially became part of Oliver. Broadway Tails is full of similar stories of rescued animals finding their way in life, with Berloni’s help.
Berloni has worked with many notable actors on Broadway but if you’re looking for a book full of Hollywood style gossip, this isn’t it. Broadway Tails focuses on the animal stars of Broadway and other than cursory mentions of the human stars, ignores the famous.
Quill says: A touching book about saving abandoned, unloved animals and turning them into superstars.