From kittens that fit in the palm of your hand to Great Danes that barely fit in some New York City apartments, the 15th annual edition of Broadway Barks filled Shubert Alley on July 13, 2013, with more than 200 adorable, adoptable dogs and cats – and the Broadway celebrities who love them.
Broadway Barks co-founder and Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters, joined by co-host and four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, welcomed throngs of pet lovers who stood shoulder-to-shoulder and sneaker-to-paw in the theatre world’s most famous alley.
“We started 15 years ago with six shelters and never would have dreamed that it would have turned into this with 27 shelters and rescue groups today,” Peters said, adding that Barks‘ co-founder Mary Tyler Moore was sadly unable to participate in this year’s event because of a broken shoulder. “Mary so wanted to be here, but she would be the first to remind us that there are still countless thousands of absolutely gorgeous dogs and cats in desperate need of homes. And we’re still spreading the word to please spay and neuter your animals. We have to learn to take care of the ones we have without making even more.”
The afternoon raises funds and awareness for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of 150 nonprofit shelters and rescue groups working to end the killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs at city shelters. In addition to finding forever homes for pets, the event promotes the importance of spaying and neutering.
A highlight of the afternoon for many of those attending was the annual parade of adoptable pets featuring more than 50 Broadway celebrities. While corralling rambunctious terriers and coaxing stage-shy shepherds, the stars introduced each shelter and rescue group represented at the event and showed off the pooches available to take home.
Jane Lynch knows first-hand the joys of rescue dogs and brought along proof. Lynch arrived at Broadway Barks with one of her own brood, 13-year-old Lhasa Apso mix Olivia, whom she rescued as a puppy. She then joined her Annie co-stars in introducing dogs from The Humane Society of New York.
Michael Urie showed he knows a thing or two about rescue dogs, too, announcing that he had adopted a two-year-old dog just a few days before Barks from Animal Haven, one of the participating shelters. “She’s a Boston terrier, Chihuahua mix – or a ‘Bostahuaha’,” Urie said, adding that “President McKinley” is joining a household with Dawson, a rescued cat. “We love rescues. They certainly are aware that they’ve had their lives saved and they have so much love to give you. And who couldn’t use a little more love in their life?”
Tony and Emmy Award winner Bebe Neuwirth returned as the champion of cat adoptions. Neuwirth, currently a proud parent of three cats, introduced the audience to a tiny black-and-white kitten, adorned in red ribbon collar and representing seven feline rescue groups. “To know you’re helping take an animal off the street or out of a cage, and give it a loving home is very fulfilling,” she said.
Among the celebrities who also participated this year were Annaleigh Ashford, Bill Berloni, Charl Brown, Bertie Carvel, Joanna Christie, Bryan Terrell Clark, Victoria Clark, Corey Cott, Lilla Crawford, Robert Cuccioli, Charlotte d’Amboise, Arthur Darvill, Brandon Victor Dixon, John Dossett, Gabriel Ebert, Harvey Fierstein, Felicia Finley, LaVon Fisher-Wilson, Sophia Gennusa, Ann Harada, Morgan James, Andy Karl, Isabel Keating, Oona Laurence, Valisia LeKae, Kara Lindsay, Jane Lynch, Terrence Mann, Lesli Margherita, Andrea Martin, Judy McLane, Patina Miller, Michael Mulheren, Laura Osnes, David Hyde Pierce, Billy Porter, Andrew Rannells, Bailey Ryon, Stark Sands, Milly Shapiro, Matthew James Thomas, Clarke Thorell, Lauren Ward, Sigourney Weaver and Liesel Allen Yeager.
The afternoon started with a special appearance by Broadway’s Jersey Boys – Matt Bogart, Drew Gehling, Andy Karl and Dominic Scaglione Jr – who serenaded the crowd with The Four Seasons’ 1967 hit “Beggin’.”
From lovable mixed breeds to purebreds, Broadway Barks featured adoptable animals from ASPCA, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Adopt a Boxer Rescue, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Animal Haven, Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), Bideawee, Bobbi and the Strays, City Critters, The Humane Society of New York, Husky House, KittyKind, Loving Touch Animal Center, Manhattan Valley Cat Rescue, Metropolitan Maltese Rescue, Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, NY Pet-I-Care, Pet ResQ, P.L.U.T.O. Rescue (Pet Lovers United Together as One), Russell Refuge, SaveKitty Foundation, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Stray from the Heart, Tigger Foundation and Urban Cat League.
Peters and Fierstein also honored the Mayor’s Alliance Wheels of Hope transport team for this year’s Broadway Barks Certificate of Recognition. The Wheels of Hope provide transportation for dogs and cats to rescue partners, vets offices and foster homes. Since the first vehicle hit road in 2005, these “sanctuaries on wheels” have transported more than 55,000 animals to safety.
The ASPCA, a proud sponsor of Broadway Barks, presented a check for $50,000 toBroadway Barks, delivered by Gail Buchwald, ASPCA senior vice president of the Adoption Center. The sponsorship dollars and other funds raised from a raffle, silent auction, signed memorabilia sales and donations are distributed to the participating shelters and rescue groups and to the Picasso Veterinary Fund. The fund, administered by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, provides grants to shelters and rescue groups to cover veterinary costs for animals with extreme medical needs.
Jane Hoffman, president of the alliance, shared Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proclamation that declared July 13, 2013, as “Broadway BarksDay” in New York.
Earlier in the afternoon, Peters greeted fans in Shubert Alley with legendary Eloiseillustrator Hilary Knight, who designed this year’s poster. Peters and Knight signed autographs on Broadway Barks 2014 calendars, which also feature Knight’s work.
The calendars, including limited edition versions autographed by Peters, are available online through the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. The calendars feature photos of some of the celebrities who have participated in Broadway Barks, along with stories of pets that were rescued and found forever homes.
Broadway Barks is sponsored by the ASPCA and The New York Times. It is presented by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and produced by Scott T. Stevens, Patty Saccente and Richard Hester.
Photos by Danny Roberts and Monica Simoes