Dozens of adoptable dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes joined hundreds of pet lovers to fill the New York City theatre district’s famed Shubert Alley as 60 of Broadway’s best and brightest performers volunteered their time to help raise awareness for adopting rescue pets.
For many of the animals, their short lives have been a struggle, but they basked in love and adoration July 12, 2014, at the 16th annual edition of Broadway Barks, the star-studded pet adoption event founded by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore and produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Peters welcomed the exuberant crowd of two-legged and four-legged friends to Shubert Alley, including her kitten-cuddling co-host, James Franco, an Academy Award nominee and star of Broadway’s Of Mice and Men.
A self-professed cat person, Franco couldn’t help but nuzzle the tiny domestic shorthair named Totes McGoates, who has a sister named Totes Adorbs, both of whom were available through Anjellicle Cats Rescue. Franco stepped in for Barks co-founder Mary Tyler Moore, who was unable to attend this year.
Broadway Barks 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.
“There are still countless thousands of absolutely gorgeous dogs and cats in desperate need of homes,” Peters said. “And as we have for 16 years, we’re 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 highlight every year for many of those filling Shubert Alley is when Broadway’s best take the stage with the dogs and cats available for adoption. Hugging the huskies and petting the poodles, the 60 celebrities introduced each shelter and rescue group represented at the event and showed off the pooches available to take home.
Tony nominee Will Swenson, currently appearing in the hit revival of Les Misérables, raved about the dog he rescued three years ago. “He’s the highlight of our kids’ lives,” Swenson said. “Butler is a shepherd-pit bull mix that we adopted from BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition). He was just a year old then and he quickly became a part of our family. He’s just the best.”
Among the celebrities who participated this year were Brooks Ashmanskas, P.J. Benjamin, Bill Berloni, Sierra Boggess, Paige Brady, Zach Braff, Krystal Joy Brown, Danny Burstein, Jane Carr, Victoria Clark, Lauren Cohn, Jenn Colella, Nick Cordero, Colin Donnell, John Dossett, Christine Dwyer, Linda Emond, Felicia Finley, Jessie Fisher, Barrett Foa, Sarah Greene, Justin Guarini, Lena Hall, Matt Harrington, Bill Heck, Samantha Hill, Jackie Hoffman, James Monroe Iglehart, Rachel Bay Jones, Andy Karl, Anika Larsen, Norm Lewis, Lesli Margherita, Kyle Dean Massey, Marin Mazzie, Audra McDonald, Judy McLane, Andy Mientus, Jessie Mueller, Bebe Neuwirth, Jim Norton, Jill Paice, Vincent Pastore, Gabriella Pizzolo, Courtney Reed, Ciara Renée, Cliff Saunders, Margo Seibert, Christopher Sieber, Ripley Sobo, Jarrod Spector, Mary Testa, Ava Ulloa, Betsy Wolfe, Lenny Wolpe, Heléne Yorke and Karen Ziemba.
The afternoon started with a special appearance by Jessie Mueller, this year’s Tony Award-winning best actress in a musical. Mueller joined her cast mates from Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, who started the afternoon festivities with a rousing edition of the 1962 hit “Chains,” written by King and Gerry Goffin.
Several of Broadway’s current canines also made appearances including Violet from Of Mice and Men, Barnum from Pippinand Trixie from Bullets Over Broadway.
Broadway Barks featured adoptable animals from New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies, including ASPCA, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Adopt a Boxer Rescue, Animal Care and Control of NYC, Animal Haven, Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), Bideawee, Bobbi & the Strays, City Critters, 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, P.L.U.T.O. Rescue (Pet Lovers United Together As One), Posh Pets Rescue, Russell Refuge, Save Kitty Foundation, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Stray from the Heart, Tigger Foundation and Urban Cat League.
Peters also honored StubbyDog and The Toby Project with this year’s Broadway Barks Certificate of Recognition. StubbyDog works to change public perceptions of pit bulls and the associated stereotypical thinking while showing them as the loyal and loving dogs they are. The Toby Project operates mobile vans and in-neighborhood clinics to provide free and low-cost spay and neuter services to those communities that supply or surrender the most animals to municipal shelters.
The ASPCA, a proud longtime sponsor, presented a check for $50,000 to Broadway Barks, delivered by Arthur Hazelwood of the ASPCA’s Adoption Center. The sponsorship dollars and other funds raised from a raffle, 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 Bill DeBlasio’s proclamation that declared July 12, 2014, as “Broadway Barks Day” in New York.
Earlier in the afternoon, Peters greeted fans in Shubert Alley with Liz Murphy, the artist for Peters’ children’s book and this year’s Broadway Barks poster.
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 Monica Simoes & Joseph Marzullo