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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bard on the Beach goes to the dog

Four legged actor makes theatrical debut in The Two Gentlemen of Verona at this year's Shakespeare festival

W.C. Fields famously once said never to work with children and animals. Director Scott Bellis tempts fate, with the four-legged variety at least, in the upcoming Bard on the Beach production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The first time a dog will appear on the annual Shakespeare festival stages since 2001, Bellis has cast a local Basset Hound named Gertie in the role of Crab, a dog owned by a servant in the Shakespeare comedy.

Among twelve dogs auditioned during a casting call last month, the six-year old Gertie comes to Bard on the Beach with no previous experience.

“Gertie impressed the entire judging panel; she has that magic combination of good looks, smarts and an unflappable personality,” says Bellis in a media release. “I’m looking forward to putting her through her paces and introducing her to Bard audiences this summer. I predict she’ll be a breakout star.”

While The Two Gentlemen of Verona will mark Gertie’s first professional theatrical appearance, it will be another line on a resume which includes hiking, snowshoeing, sticking her head through strangers’ legs and regurgitating things she should not have eaten, including the twelve socks she has eaten in her lifetime.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona plays in repertory with The Merchant of Venice this year on the Howard Family Stage in Vancouver’s Vanier Park. The comedy tells the story of best friends Valentine and Proteus who are both in love with Valentine’s girlfriend Sylvia. To make matters even more complicated, Proteus already has a girlfriend of his own.

An early romantic comedy by Shakespeare The Two Gentlemen of Verona explores friendship, love and loyalty with the bonus of two very funny clowns, plus a dog named Gertie Crab who may just steal the show.

The 2017 Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival returns to Vanier Park from June 1 through September 23. Visit for tickets and information.

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