Written by Caroline Baum
Week Two: The Opera Centre, Sydney
She’ll be replaced by a professional pooch - the original Kleenex labrador puppy - supplied by an agency for performing animals at the extravagant rate of $700 per rehearsal and $900 per show.
In rehearsal, the climactic fight scene between Lennie and Curley’s wife (we never learn her name in the novel or in the score) takes six hours to choreograph and now looks real.
‘What kind of floor will it be on stage?’ asks Jackie Mabardi.
Meanwhile Anthony is getting used to the soft toy he has to pretend is the puppy he accidentally strokes to death. He plays with it, trying to pose it convincingly, angling its paws over his forearm. It’s not yet looking completely convincing, but at least it doesn’t fart.
Postscript: Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley is about a midlife road trip the author undertook with his dog as companion. It helped him win the Nobel prize for literature, so the dog redeemed himself.