STRATFORD, Ontario (Gray News) – Some critics swear theater has been going to the dogs for years.
It was never truer than at a performance of “Billy Elliot” this month at the Stratford Festival, about 90 miles west of Toronto.
A photo of the service dogs has been making the rounds on social media. The picture shows the Labs, poodles and golden retrievers attentively sitting in the rows of the theater.
“About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved,” Stratford Festival spokeswoman Ann Swerdfager told CBC Radio.
“I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theatre.”
During a relaxed performance, a more casual attitude is taken toward noise and movement within the auditorium, and some minor production changes may be made to reduce the intensity of light, sound and other potentially startling effects.
Although out for a bit of entertainment, the pooches were on a serious training mission, learning how to navigate through a theater.
“All of the dogs were fantastic and remained relaxed throughout the performance. Some even watched through the cracks of the seats,” Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer with K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told the CBC.
"The dogs loved the show almost as much as their handlers."
Yes, the word is they gave the performance two paws up.