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Bernadette Peters and Gloria Estefan. Photo by Ryan Leeds

Bernadette Peters and Gloria Estefan look terrific for stars who have been at it for over 80 years. Before the tabloids explode with untruths, allow me to clarify: This is in dog years. In reality, both of them appeared on Broadway’s famed Shubert Alley this past Saturday for Broadway Barks, an event that raises awareness and funds for local animal shelters and pet adoption agencies.

Judy McLane. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Judy McLane. Photo by Ryan Leeds

Peters began the yearly tradition with TV legend Mary Tyler Moore eighteen years ago and it continues to draw theater’s biggest stars. Prior to that, agencies had not worked together. Peters explained, “They had all been rolling up their sleeves, but they needed some help and publicity to raise people’s awareness about adopting a shelter animal. I always say ‘You rescue a dog, they rescue you.’” Estefan echoed Peters’ sentiments. “I can’t think of life without a pet”, she said. “They give so much love.” Estefan, who resides in Miami, didn’t plan to walk away from the festivities empty handed. “I’m down to four dogs, having lost two of them earlier this year,” she said.  “I think that by the end of the day, we’ll add at least another two. No matter how much pain there is in losing an animal, the amount of unconditional love that they give you and the quality of life that you have when you’re with them is phenomenal.” The global hit-maker, who is currently represented at the Marquis Theater with On Your Feet, appears to be Florida’s equivalent of Ace Ventura. “I have dogs, birds, turtles, and I even had wallabies at one point!” As it turned out, Estefan and her team added 6 more dogs to their families, all of which came from the 29 shelters who attended the event.  Peters also practices what she preaches with two shelter dogs of her own.

Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Bill Berloni and dog Bowdie. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Bill Berloni and dog Bowdie. Photo by Ryan Leeds

 

 

 

Jesse Tyler-Ferguson. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Jesse Tyler-Ferguson. Photo by Ryan Leeds

This year also marked the debut of the Broadway Barks bracelet, designed by local artist Stephen Prescott. The unisex, animal inspired accessory is  available for purchase here. 100 % of the proceeds go to Broadway Barks.

While most performers arrived to the event empty handed, Tony winner Michael Cerveris (Fun Home) came with his own canine, Evangeline. The southern beauty is half Brittany spaniel and half mixed and was rescued from a kill shelter.

The cast of "Ruthless! The Musical." Photo by Ryan Leeds
The cast of “Ruthless! The Musical.” Photo by Ryan Leeds

Other stars showcased dogs that were available for adoption:  Michael Mulheren (Bright Star) and Sophia Anne Caruso (Lazarus/Blackbird), Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans), Jessie Tyler Ferguson (Fully Committed) Judy McLane (Mamma Mia) and the cast of Ruthless! The Musical.

Bill Berloni also showed up to show off his latest “project”, Bowdie. Berloni is Broadway’s “go-to guy” who trains all of the animals that have graced New York stages in recent years. Berloni proudly uses shelter animals as often as possible.  Bowdie will appear in the upcoming Duncan Sheik/Nell Benjamin musical Because of Winn-Dixie.

Sophia Anne Caruso and Michael Mulheren. Photo by Ryan Leeds
Sophia Anne Caruso and Michael Mulheren. Photo by Ryan Leeds

Saturday’s event began at noon with a playbill and poster signing by Peters and Estefan. It was followed by celebrity presentations which lasted until 6:30.