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Bernadette Peters and James Franco. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
Bernadette Peters and James Franco. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds

Tourists, residents, and Broadway aficionados all had reason to “paws” in the center of the theater district this past Saturday as celebrities and shelter animals took to Shubert alley for an event which left every spectator “feline” fine.

For the past 16 years, screen and stage  star Bernadette Peters has spearheaded Broadway Barks , an event which raises awareness for shelter animals and encourages their adoption. Peters co-founded the organization with her long time friend and fellow celeb Mary Tyler Moore and was cheerfully present on Saturday afternoon, July 12th.  She spoke briefly to Manhattan Digest, “It’s very important for everyone in the world to give attention where it is needed, and if something sparks your interest that needs help, I think you should try to do something about it.” Peters is the proud owner of a dog, Charlie, who apparently yodles at home with the songstress.While the rest of us beg, borrow, and steal to see this stage legend in concert, Charlie gets serenaded by Sondheim simply for showing up to food bowl- Lucky dog!  Peters authored two children’s books based on her love for man’s best friend (“Broadway Barks” and “Stella is a Star”)  and will release a third in   Spring 2015.

Dogs weren’t the only four legged creatures hopeful to find a home. Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago)  and James

Bebe Neuwirth. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
Bebe Neuwirth. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds

Franco (Of Mice and Men)  flaunted a “purr-fectly” adorable kitty, eager to live the rest of its lives (plural)  in New York domesticity. Aladdin’s  genie and recent Tony award winner James Monroe Iglehart was also on hand to aid in the cause. “This is my first year,” he told Manhattan Digest. “I’m a rookie, but I’m proud to be involved. I used to work at Memphis, which was here at the Shubert Theater, and I used to see the event happen. I thought it was  so cool that they were doing it,  so  when they asked me to be a part of it, I jumped at the chance.” Iglehart is the proud owner of two finicky cats, Zoe and Missy. “They don’t even go outside when it’s cold. They just look and decide that they’ll stay inside to watch all the birds flying by.” Others, like Ciare Renee (Pippin) were there to show support , but were not pet owners themselves. “I don’t have any pets” she said. “I just pretend that Barnum (pictured below) is my dog.” When asked if she was taking any home with her, she said , “I wish! But I think my roomate would be mad!”

L-R Kyle Dean Massey, Ciara Renee, and Rachel Bay Jones with Barnum. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
L-R Kyle Dean Massey, Ciara Renee, and Rachel Bay Jones with Barnum. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds

Zach Braff (Bullets Over Broadway),  Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) , Justin Guarini and Mary Testa (Wicked) , Norm Lewis and  Sierra Boggess (Phantom of the Opera),  Audra McDonald (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) and many others offered their time and talents to the cause by performing at the notorious venue, located between 44th and 45th streets. While the summer sun poured onto the city streets, few found little to “growl” about as New York City shelters and adoption agencies found happy homes for many eternally grateful animals- and that’s no shih tzu!   For now,  this journalist must sign off.  With all of these obviously tacky  puns, this story has gone to the dogs. Groan!

 

Jessie Mueller. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
Jessie Mueller. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess. Phpto courtesy of Ryan Leeds
Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess. Phpto courtesy of Ryan Leeds
James Monroe Iglehart. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds
James Monroe Iglehart. Photo courtesy of Ryan Leeds