Two Stars are Born!


My name is Mc Duff. I’m six years old. My friend, Theo, is ten. We’re Westies. Together last month (November 2010) we had a most satisfying adventure. We were “supers” in the production of La Boheme at the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit.

It all started one Saturday when our Moms took us to an audition at the Theatre. My Mom is Marilyn Kelly, a lawyer/judge. Theo’s Mom is Kathryn Howie, an engineer/lawyer. (My first Mom was Janet Lindgren of Briarcliff Kennels. Theo’s first Mom was Cathy Weishaupt of Silverbrand Kennels.)

There were lots of other little white dogs at the audition. Afterwards, I thought about why we won. In Theo’s case, I think it’s because he is very handsome, and he liked being wheeled around the Theatre parking lot in a bicycle basket by the opera Director. Theo is also exceedingly good-natured, and he wore great sunglasses.

He and I had never met before, even though our Moms both belong to the West Highland White Terrier Club of Southeast Michigan. But we hit it off right away. That helped us both with the audition because the Director, Mario Corradi from Milan, Italy, wanted two dogs that got along together and didn’t bark. As for why one of the dog roles went to me: I do a great sit-up-and-beg, looking adorable. I think I spent that whole Saturday morning begging.

In any event, the Director announced that Theo and I were the winners and told us when to come back to the Theatre for rehearsals. He also pointed out that two “understudies” had been chosen to replace us in the event either of us goofed up. Several days later, we were taken to a rehearsal room in the Theatre. Dozens of people were there, including lots of kids. Everyone was singing and milling around. The Director watched us closely to see how we handled the hubbub. It was our first test, and we passed it handily; it was a lot like being at the annual WHWTCSEM holiday party.

The second test had us in a scene with some of the principle singers. Again the Director watched us closely. After, he tactfully announced that he wasn’t going to leave Theo and me on stage a lot because, as he put it, “His eye kept going back to the dogs.” Some have suggested that the singers didn’t appreciate us “stealing the show”. Whatever the reason, it was determined that we would be brought on and off stage several times during the Second Act, which takes place outside the Café Momus in the Latin Quarter of Paris, one Christmas Eve.

We were presented with a new test with every succeeding rehearsal as another segment of the production was added. At the third rehearsal, we went from the rehearsal room to the stage for the first time. I walked out there and froze, transfixed by that black abyss where the audience sits. And then there was that net that protected us from falling into the orchestra pit!

At the next rehearsal, they added the lights, then the costumes and makeup, then the orchestra and, finally, the audience. Each time we were watched closely to see if we were up to the test.


Our Moms were really stressed. As for Theo and me, it was a piece of cake, except for the time, at the end of one prolonged rehearsal, when we had to pee and one of the kids pushed a balloon in my snout. We began barking and didn’t stop. Fortunately, the rehearsal was finishing up when it happened.

The understudies might have been brought in the next day. But, as luck would have it, by then the Director couldn’t bear to cut us. He was so kind. Whenever he’d pass by us at rehearsals, he’d stop and pet us. Once, he whispered in my ear, “I’d like to take you back to Milan.”

Actually, everyone was incredibly nice to us, the principals, the super(numerarie)s, the stagehands and the members of the orchestra. One super, a man who told our Moms that he had been working at the MOT for twenty years, brought us each a little bag of treats. I heard him say that he recently lost his day job and that he’d had a dog like us who went to the Rainbow Bridge just a few months before. The treats were his dog’s favorites.

The last of the five performances of La Boheme was November 21st. We were sad to see it end. Such a lot of good strokes, so many swell treats. It was a most satisfying adventure!