Kevin Crouch performs with Michael, a deaf pit bull, in the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
From news service reports
RENO, Nev. — This summer's Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival has produced an unlikely star: a deaf pit bull named Michael who narrowly escaped euthanasia.
The 6-year-old American Staffordshire terrier has turned out to be a hoot in his role as Crab the dog in the Bard's comedy "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," festival organizers and audience members said.
Michael plays a miscreant of sorts who doesn't care to please his owner, they said, and his varied spontaneous reactions to his owner's laments on stage frequently prompt laughter.
Among other things, Michael has scratched his head, chewed on a foot or thrown apathetic glances at the audience when Crab's owner, Launce, played by Kevin Crouch, pours his heart out.
Joan O'Lear, of Incline Village, remembers the night she watched as Michael spotted a tiny service dog in the front row.
"He honed in on her and whined at the perfectly timed monologue that the actor was giving about how even the dog didn't care about his plight," she recalled. "It was so funny. The Shakespeare play was good, but Mike added the crowning touch."
Michael's real owner, Michelle Okashima, of Incline Village, told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza there's "a great chemistry between Mike and Kevin that makes their stage time together electric and believable."
Not bad for a dog who was scheduled for euthanasia in July 2006 in Reno after he was found running loose and no one claimed him.
Okashima said she's grateful for his last-minute rescue by Nanette Cronk of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe and his selection for the play.
Michael and another dog were chosen to play Crab out of 11 dogs that auditioned. Michael appears in two or three plays a week, performing in three scenes for a total of about 15 minutes each night.
"What are the odds they would pick a pit bull?" Okashima asked. "All the time they face rejection in our society." I was shocked he got the part. I really appreciate the fact they gave him a shot."
Sheen matches $50,000 gift
CINCINNATI - Actor Charlie Sheen, a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, has pledged to donate $50,000 to the team's Community Fund, matching the amount broadcaster Marty Brennaman raised for charity in return for having his head shaved on the field.
Sheen and his father, Martin Sheen, a Dayton native, were at the Reds game against Pittsburgh on Friday and saw Brennaman get his head shaved. Brennaman had promised to shave his head if the Reds won 10 consecutive games and said he would do it publicly if fans donated at least $20,000 to the Reds fund.
That drive generated $50,000, and Charlie Sheen announced Sunday he planned to match that amount.
"The City of Cincinnati has opened its arms to me so graciously and I'm compelled to give something back," Sheen said in a statement released by the Reds. "If this contribution points one kid in the right direction, then we've done our job."
'Dark Knight' maintains momentum for third week
LOS ANGELES - "The Dark Knight Rises" topped the box office for the third week in a row, making $36.4 million this past weekend.
The finale in Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy has now made nearly $355 million domestically alone, according to Sunday estimates from Warner Bros.
"Total Recall," starring Colin Farrell in a new take on the thriller that provided Arnold Schwarzenegger with one of his best-loved action roles in 1990, opened in second place with $26 million, Columbia Pictures said.
And the Fox family comedy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" debuted at No. 3 with $14.7 million.
– From news service reportsTweet
Actor Charlie Sheen watches from the stands Saturday as the Cincinnati Reds play the Pittsburgh Pirates.