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Stray dog Nigel to play Toto when The Wiz returns to New York

Nigel as Toto in new New York production of The Wiz
Nigel as Toto in new New York production of The Wiz

The Wiz — the musical version of “The Wizard of Oz” which was made into the 1978  Sidney Lumet-directed movie starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson — will be returning to New York in June, at City Center. As part of the pre-production publicity, its canine star will be signing “paw-o-graphs” on Saturday, May 30 at 11:00 am at City Center (55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), on behalf of the Humane Society of New York.

Toto will be played by Nigel, who was abandoned on the streets of Arkansas, we are told, shortly after he was born some 20 months ago, and then rescued by the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society. As the press agent for the show explains: “In a modern-day version of the famous legend of Lana Turner, who was discovered by a talent scout at a Schrafts Drugstore, Nigel was discovered on the Humane Society’s website by Bill Berloni, award-winning theatrical animal trainer and Director of Animal behavior for the Humane Society of New York, who was looking for just the right dog to play Toto.”