Bernadette Peters Brings Adoptable Dogs to Broadway
Talking to Tony winner and Broadway Barks founder Bernadette Peters on 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 raised the most.) “Once we did that, I said, 'What else can we do?'” Peters recalls when we chat on the eve of the event. “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 9, Peters will cohost Broadway Barks with The Music Man star and Tony nominee Sutton Foster. 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 features 25 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 nearly 25 years, Broadway Barks has helped a staggering 2,000 cats and dogs find homes. And thanks to the theater legend, you can expect everyone from Hugh Jackman to Jane Lynch to show up, to help facilitate some adoptions. Sure, sacrifices are involved, but that doesn’t seem to dim the star power. “We ask them 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.” Other celebrity guests include Shoshana Bean (Mr. Saturday Night), Jewelle Blackman (Hadestown), Myles Frost (MJ), Tamar Greene (Hamilton), and dozens more.
Thousands of funny, loving, soulful pets have crossed her path — and Peters 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 are: Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniels Rescue Inc., Adopt A Boxer Rescue, AdvoCat Rescue, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Care Centers of NYC—formerly Animal Care & Control (ACC), Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Bideawee, Bobbi and the Strays, City Critters, Francis's Friends Inc., Husky House, Linda's Cat Assistance, Little Shelter, Long Island Bulldog, Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League Inc., Pet ResQ Inc., SaveKitty Foundation, SPCA of Westchester, Urban Cat League, Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue and 1 Love 4 Animals.
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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.