“Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz so long as Dorothy was with him; but he knew the little girl was unhappy, and that made him unhappy too.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
We all know Toto as the feisty terrier, and Dorothy’s best friend from The Wizard of Oz. But Judy Garland may have been upstaged.
In Hasbrouck Heights High School’s adaptation of the famous movie, Dorothy is played by Erin Bischoff, a senior, dons the ruby reds, and has her real life service dog, Gauge, playing the role of Toto, perhaps the most iconic dog ever on screen.
Bischoff has “Brittle Bone Disease”, osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes her bones to break very easily. Gauge helps her navigate the world safely, offering physical and emotional support for Bischoff, much as Toto does for Dorothy.
According to an NJ.com article,
“Erin was just really appropriate for the role, in so many ways,” says Paula Jacobs, the director of the show, who is also the adviser of the high school drama club.
“Her tenacity in the face of adversity is such an important part of who Erin is as a person,” Jacobs says. “It’s something, in combination with her sweetness and innocence, that is extremely important for someone playing the role of Dorothy.”
There’s definitely no place like home, and home is family, human and furkid. We look forward to seeing more inclusive casting, as well as more of Gauge and Erin in future productions.
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