Airedale terrier Arrow finds sweet spot in production of 'Annie!' at Civic Center

Personable pooch is already a veteran actor at 5 years old

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Arrow, a 5-year-old Airedale terrier, is featured in the role of Sandy in the Four Corners Musical Theatre Company production of "Annie!" that is being presented at the Farmington Civic Center.

FARMINGTON — Arrow, the 5-year-old Airedale terrier who appears in the Four Corners Musical Theatre Company production of "Annie!" that is being presented at the Farmington Civic Center, isn't normally the type of dog who seeks out affection.

"He doesn't love getting pets," said Courtney Bess Thompson, Arrow's "mom," who has trained him to perform the role of Sandy, the stray dog adopted by the title character in the popular musical production based on the Harold Gray comic strip.

Instead, Thompson said, Arrow likes to be regarded as an equal — someone who is invited to be part of the group and treated with respect. But when it comes to interacting with the numerous teenage girls who appear as the orphans in this production, Arrow seems more than willing to make an exception.

"He's like a big puddle," she said, explaining how Arrow seems to enjoy lying down in the middle of the crowd of girls during rehearsals and soaking up all the ear scratches and belly rubs they care to dish out. "They pet him at all different intervals and speeds."

Thompson takes that as a sign that, after some initial challenges, Arrow seems to have found his comfort level with this production of "Annie!" — the fourth company he has worked for across the country and the sixth time he has appeared in a production of the show. That makes Arrow one of the more experienced performers in the cast, even if this is his first show since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted his stage career 2½ years ago.

Thompson, an occupational therapist, lives with Arrow in Las Vegas, Nevada. But it was during their time living in New York City that she discovered that Arrow was a natural to fill the role of Sandy.

She said a company in the city was staging a production of "Annie!" and was looking for a dog to fill that role. Thompson, who already had trained Arrow in basic commands, called to inquire about it. To her surprise, the director promptly hired him.

Any doubts she had about Arrow's suitability for a life under the stage lights quickly evaporated, Thompson said, as he excelled in the role.

"He relished it," Thompson said of that first experience. "He loved the applause. He loved being with children. And he hit all his marks."

Once word got around about Arrow's abilities, he quickly was cast as Sandy again in two subsequent productions and even earned work in television productions, including Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It," "New Amsterdam," "FBI: Most Wanted" and even "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Arrow, the Airedale terrier appearing in the Four Corners Musical Theatre Company production of "Annie!," soaks up attention from the teenage girls who appear as the orphans in the show during a rehearsal at the Farmington Civic Center.

But "Annie!" remains the basis of Arrow's career, and Thompson jumped at the opportunity to have him return to his roots when he was offered the chance to appear in the Four Corners Musical Theater Company production. Thompson and Arrow arrived in Farmington on Aug. 9 to get acquainted with the production opening two days later.

Initially, not everything went smoothly in Arrow's return to the stage, and his role had to be adjusted, Thompson said. But as the production prepares to enter its second week, her dog has settled in nicely, Thompson said, and they are enjoying their stay here.

"Arrow loves playing in the fountains (at the Civic Center)," she said. "Most (theater patrons) don't know there's a show going on outside the show."

But he seems most content in the theater itself, she said.

"He never sleeps better than when he is in the aisle of a theater during rehearsal, curled up in what we call the cookie-cutter position," Thompson said.

In fact, Arrow is so familiar with the music from "Annie!" that he has a distinct reaction when he hears it, she said.

"If he so much as hears the soundtrack to 'Annie!,' he starts howling," she said.

The Four Corners Musical Theatre Company presents its production of "Annie!" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, through Saturday, Aug. 20, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. Tickets are $14 and $18. Visit fmtn.org/shows or call 505-599-1184 for tickets.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.