Furry Tails: Bruiser Woods & Rufus!

By: Heather Lang
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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Well, I’ve never had the urge to try the “bend and snap,” but I have always wanted to meet Bruiser Woods!

Today, that wish came true! I was star struck when the cast of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” swung through the KDKA studios Tuesday morning. Especially the canine stars of the show, Bruiser and Rufus.

Let’s face it; there would be no Elle Woods without Bruiser. He’s her very best friend! As he should be!

And that little Chihuahua made it onto the list of my all-time favorite famous pets last year, too.

You wouldn’t believe how well-behaved these actor pups are in real life. Chico, who plays Bruiser, and Nellie, who plays Paulette’s caught-in-a-custody-battle bulldog Rufus, are both trained by William Berloni Theatrical Animals.

Here’s the most amazing part, both were rescued from shelters. Now that’s a rags to riches story!

Chico and Nellie’s handler, Schuyler Beeman, is also an ensemble cast member in the show. He says it’s his job to keep them happy and see to their needs.

Watch Chico, Nellie and Schuyler on Pittsburgh Today Live:

“It’s a 24-7 job,” said Beeman. “When they’re on contracts with me, they’re with me 24-7. I feed them, I take them out, I make sure that they’re happy. My main title is handler, but I like to say that I’m their best friend.”

Beeman says getting the animals to perform in a live stage production is all about positive reinforcement.

“So, everything that they get on stage is love and treats and everything is just super happy,” he says. “Whatever they love to do, we try to make sure that it’s a positive thing for them to do.”

William Berloni Theatrical Animals is based in Connecticut. According to their website, Berloni got his start when he discovered the shelter dog that played the part of “Sandy” in the original production of “Annie.”

“Sandy became ‘the longest running dog on Broadway,’” and the experience put Berloni on the path of training rescue animals for the bright lights of fame, Theatrical Animals’ website says.

Beeman says to get them ready for the live shows, Chico and Nellie only work with the actors that they’ll have direct interaction with on stage.

“There are only four people that actually work with them on stage. So for the main rehearsal process, they are only working with those people,” said Beeman. “With the ensemble, they have to not pay any attention to them, so the dogs are fully focused on those actors and go to them on stage.”

There’s also treats involved, of course. Beeman says he has a pocket full of treats off stage, and the actors give Nellie and Chico treats during the show, as well.

“There’s special blocking for the actual show to make it look like they’re not getting treats,” he said.

And Beeman just isn’t the dogs’ handler; he’s also an actor. If you plan on seeing the show, you can look for him in the “bend and snap” sequence!

“I’m actually in the ensemble. I have my own track in the show, which is always fun. I’m a member of some street scenes. I’m also a man in the salon, which is really fun,” he says. “I get to do the ‘bend and snap’ number. It’s a blast!”

Pittsburgh CLO Presents “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is now playing at the Benedum Center through this Sunday, June 22.

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” stars on Pittsburgh Today Live:

For tickets, you can call: 412-456-6666

If you’d like more information, visit Pittsburgh CLO’s website at this link!

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Stay tuned animal lovers for more Furry Tails! You can follow me on Twitter at @HeatherLang24

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