Bernadette Peters Brings Adoptable Dogs to Broadway
Tony winner and Broadway Barks founder Bernadette Peters tells The Wildest about her nonprofit’s star-studded adoption event.
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In 1999, actress and two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters was famously starring in a revival of the musical Annie Get Your Gun. At the time, each show on Broadway would compete to fundraise for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. (For the record, Annie Get Your Gun raised the most.) “Once we did that, I said, ‘What else can we do?’” Peters recalls when she talks to The Wildest. “And I got to talking with my good friend, Mary Tyler Moore, and we came up with an event to get the community together to help get homeless animals adopted, and Broadway Barks was born.”
On Saturday July 8 Peters will cohost the 25th annual Broadway Barks with comedian Randy Rainbow. The event, which is free, takes place starting at 3 p.m., in NYC’s Shubert Alley, located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues.
The event, which reportedly features 24 adoption agencies this year, has become a gold-standard in animal-rescue events, with Peters its guardian-angel of a hustler. That’s because in 25 years, Broadway Barks has helped close to 2,000 cats and dogs find homes. And thanks to Peters, you can expect some of her fellow Broadway babies, bold names on both stage and screen, to show up to help facilitate some adoptions. Sure, sacrifices are involved, but that doesn’t seem to dim the star power. “We ask [theater actors] to do this on a two-show day, between shows, which is usually their only break of the day,” Peters says. “Surprisingly, almost everyone wants to participate.”
This year, reported guests include Annaleigh Ashford (Sweeney Todd), Victoria Clark (Kimberly Akimbo), Adam Heller (Some Like it Hot), Taylor Iman Jones (Six), Carol Kane, Marsha Mason, Laurie Metcalf (Grey House), Bonnie Milligan (Kimberly Akimbo), Bebe Neuwirth, Michele Pawk (Wicked), Emily Skinner (New York, New York), Will Swenson (A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical), Paulo Szot (& Juliet), and many more.
Thousands of funny, loving, soulful pets have crossed Peters’s path — and she can still recall many of them. “One year, there was a beautiful, sweet Pit Bull with an amazing heart,” Peters says, fondly. “She was at a wildlife rescue before she came to us, and she was very gentle and loved the little doe that was there. Her name was Nina, and she was adopted on the spot.”
She knows all too well that feeling of love at first sight. “I have two dogs, one for each hand. Charlie, a Heinz 57 — a little of this, a little of that — (for those who don’t know what a Heinz 57 is, rescued from a shelter in Texas), and Rosalia a Pit Bull rescued here in NYC,” she says. “Animals, dogs and cats, offer that unconditional love that some humans forget to express to one another. Animals deliver on that need 10 times out of 10. They know how to love.”
The New York animal rescue organizations that will be at Broadway Barks include Anjellice Cats Rescue, Best Friend Animal Society, Husky House, Long Island Bull Dog Rescue, Muddy Paws Rescue, Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, and more.
Rachael Ziering walked away from a career on Broadway to make the pet adoption process more inclusive.
“Comedy and entertainment — that’s my passion. But my purpose in life is saving dogs. And somehow I have managed to combine the two.”
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Nisha Gopalan has been a writer/editor for The New York Times, New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and NYLON magazines. She currently resides in Los Angeles.