Meet the dog who is playing Dorothy’s sidekick, Toto in ABT’s The Wizard of Oz
PEORIA, Arizona, June 5, 2023 — A real life Toto will be starring in The Wizard of Oz from June 16 – July 23. Tally is an 11-year-old mixed breed dog with a history of performing on stage, his debut being a high school production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Now, Tally is in his first professional role at Arizona Broadway Theatre as Dorothy’s famed sidekick, Toto.
Tally came from humble beginnings, as a stray dog that wandered onto the Apollo High School track field. Tally’s owner, Joanna Devlin, recalled that her husband who was coaching at the time was alerted that there was a dog running around the track.
“He called to tell us that he was bringing home a dog,” Joanna said. “We laughed because it was April Fool’s Day, only he wasn’t joking. We put up flyer in the neighborhood and tried to find his owners. Nobody claimed him and so he became our dog. We always say that April 1st is his birthday.”
Soon after, Tally made his way to stardom in Apollo High School’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Joanna’s daughter, Kelianne was playing a key role in the production and the director needed a live dog for the ending scene. Kelianne volunteered Tally for the role and the rest was history.
“My son Jackson hung out backstage with Tally until he was needed in his big scene. We all were interested in how he would respond,” Said Joanna. “The father led him out on leash and set Tally into the son’s lap. Tally snuggled in and directed his big brown eyes right at the audience. They were in love with him and awed at his cuteness. At that point, we knew we had a star on our hands.”
The casting directors for ABT’s The Wizard of Oz knew from the beginning that they needed a live dog for the production but weren’t exactly sure how to execute the plan. Joanna responded to a Facebook post shared about casting calls jokingly claiming she had the “real Toto”. After closer inspection, the directors believed Tally would be a perfect fit for the role and went forth in casting him as Toto.
Joanna and her family are incredibly excited for Tally to have this opportunity.
“As a family, we love attending live theater and having ABT in our backyard makes it so convenient. My parents are season ticket holders and enjoy live theatre,” Joanna said. “They are excited to have their ‘grand-dog’ in the show. I am happy to be able to lend Tally to the production. I know that everyone will fall in love with him.”
See Tally perform in the magical production of The Wizard of Oz from June 16 – July 23. Choose from two experiences at Arizona Broadway Theatre. Enjoy family time and dine prior to curtain from a Wizard of Oz inspired menu made for adults and kids. Or simply enjoy one of ABT’s specialty beverages in the lobby before production with a performance ticket. Dining prior to the show is available for the matinee or evening performances.
Runtime: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. Performance Tickets start at $35 for ages 1 –13 and $79 for adults plus service fees. Tickets are available now at the Box Office or at AZBROADWAY.org. Discounted Dinner and Show tickets are offered for groups of 12 and more and are available by calling 623.766.8400 ext. 0.
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ABOUT ARIZONA BROADWAY THEATRE (ABT)
ABT Performing Arts Association, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Arizona’s one-of-a-kind, award-winning, state-of-the-art professional theatre showcasing locally and nationally acclaimed artists and providing palate-pleasing sit-down table service prepared fresh daily to accompany the award-winning on-stage fare. One reservation allows patrons to enjoy a whole night’s entertainment without rushing around the Phoenix sprawl. Support from the community sustains professional musical theatre produced in the Northwest Valley. It also allows ABT to create and deliver youth programming that educates and engages students across metropolitan Phoenix. azbroadway.org