Puck strolls across the stage, confidently hits her mark, then scampers off for backstage accolades and belly rubs.
Yes, belly rubs.
The three-year-old terrier mix is one of the four-legged stars of Muncie Civic Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” opening this weekend at Minnetrista’s Oakhurst Gardens.
Amy Leffingwell, who plays Starveling in the Shakespeare production, said Puck was the perfect fit. “She’s the kind of dog you just immediately fall in love with,” Leffingwell said during a break in rehearsals.
And that is exactly what she hopes will happen during the run of the show. Puck, you see, is available for adoption. So, too, is her eight-month-old daughter, Snug. And, yes, both of the names, with a nod to Will, were bestowed upon the dogs by the cast.
Leffingwell’s character has a dog in the play. But instead of using a cast members dog or putting out a canine casting call, Muncie Civic’s Executive Director Laura Williamson suggested they head to the shelter.
“We’ve done this in the past for shows,” Leffingwell noted. “And because we are a non-profit, we feel it’s important for us to help others in the community. We are all in this together.”
So, Leffingwell, who agreed to foster the show dog, and her daughter, Grace Butler (one of Oberon’s fairies in the show), went to talk with Phil Peckinpaugh at Muncie Animal Care and Services. Peckinpaugh, no stranger to the Civic stage himself, was immediately on board and led Leffingwell and her daughter on the search for Midsummer’s main mutt.
“I was looking for a dog that doesn’t look like any dogs we normally see around here,” she said. “And I knew the dog had to be a certain size, so we could pick her up in a pinch.”
Once she saw Puck – friendly, white and fluffy with a brown furry mask over her bright eyes and pointy, fairy-like ears – she knew the search was over. But standing next to her was her shy, Schnauzer-like counterpart, all in brown with wisps of white on her chin and chest.
“So, of course, we had to take her too!” Leffingwell said with a laugh.
Snug will not be appearing in a role, but will make an appearance during intermission, Leffingwell said. She still has a bit of stage fright.
Puck is already a pro. She can sit, shake, stay and has no problems following Leffingwell’s lead.
Both have been spayed and are current on shots. And by the end of the production, both will be able to add “Shakespearean Actor” to their resumes.
“Our hope is that both will find wonderful homes by the end of ‘Midsummer’,” Leffingwell said.
It would be a “Dream” come true for these terriers.
Muncie Civic Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Minnetrista’s Oakhurst Gardens will be 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-5, 10-12, and 17-19. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for groups of 10 or more, and $13 for students and children.
Seating will be general admission, outdoors. If the show is rained out, there will be a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on your ticketed weekend.
“Midsummer” is Shakespeare’s most famous comedy. This musical, magical journey into the picturesque Oakhurst Gardens offers audiences the opportunity to experience Shakespeare like never before. Full of meddling fairies, misunderstandings, and music, this show is great for a date night or fun for the whole family.
For more information and tickets, call 288-PLAY or go to www.munciecivic.org.