Theatre Three in Port Jefferson will open the family musical “The Wizard of Oz” on May 18. Appearing in the role of Toto is the lovely Shih Tzu mix Mia Donatuti. Director Jeffrey Sanzel sat down with Mia to talk about her life, her love of cheese, and her upcoming Theatre Three debut.
How are you today, Mia?
I’m good! It’s good to be here!
Well, we’re very glad to have you.
So, we’ve been rehearsing now for a few weeks …
Yes, we have. It’s fun! So many people and smells!
That’s very true. We thought it would be fun to find out more about you.
Where were you born?
Oh. I’m not sure. I know I came to my home from the Kent Animal Shelter in 2014.
And how old are you now?
A lady never tells her age!
Of course. Where do you live now?
I live in a house. With doors. And windows.
That sounds very nice.
And where is the house?
It’s in East Patchogue. I live with my mommy, Dawn, and my six doggie siblings.
What’s that like?
It’s really terrific! Some of my siblings are big and some are small. The littlest is five pounds. The biggest is ninety-two pounds!
That’s a big family.
Mommy has also fostered a lot of other doggies. I’ve lived with twenty-seven foster doggies since I came to live there.
That’s great. Do you have a favorite sibling?
Well, I’m the Princess so …
I like Mommy best. I share my toys and bedding with my brothers and sisters but I don’t share my Mommy’s right cheek for sleeping time.
Do you have any cheese?
Uh, no. Not right now. But I’ll get some.
I understand you have a job.
It’s kind of a job but it’s more than that. When Mommy’s daddy went into a nursing home, Mommy brought me for visits. After Grandpa came home, Mommy decided to keep bringing me there on Sundays. So I become a service dog. I like the people SOOOOO much. I spend most of my time with the people who don’t have visitors or lots of family.
Sometimes, they line up to hold me. Once, this really nice lady tried to run away with me!
Another time, another really nice lady carried me around like I was her baby for an hour and sang me nursery rhymes. She was very sweet.
Was it hard to get certified as a service dog?
No. I just needed to show them that I was focused and not rambunctious. Which I’m not! It wasn’t hard. I love going.
What do you like best about being a service dog?
Sitting on people’s laps. I like attention.
Could we talk about ‘The Wizard of Oz’?
Is this your stage debut?
Well, no … I actually I played Toto in an elementary school production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Mommy’s niece played a munchkin. It was fun to work with the young kids. But this is my first time on a real big stage.
I’ve noticed that you don’t bark.
No. It’s not ladylike.
What are you looking forward to most about playing Toto?
Being with the cast. Everyone is so nice. And I’m going to get to meet people after the show.
Uh-huh! Anyone who wants can have their picture taken with me and Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Lion and the Tinman after the show. That’ll be fun! I’ll get to meet so many new people. I like meeting new people.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like getting out of the house by going grocery shopping or to the movies. I like to go out. I like dressing up. I’m a bit girly. I don’t like bows in my hair but I like sweaters.
I like to eat. Liverwurst. Cheese. Bacon. Cheese.
Do you have any words of encouragement for other dogs who might want to get involved in theater?
It’s a great experience for doggies with a good disposition to see and be seen!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.
You’re welcome. Cheese, please?
“The Wizard of Oz” plays May 18 through June 22 at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson. For tickets and information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. Stay after the show for a photo with Dorothy, Toto and their friends.