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This pup is ready for her close-up

See also: Stepping into Reese's hot pink pumps

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Brunette Micah Atkinson may be playing a blonde in "Legally Blonde," but Thudd Brightwell-Skidmore is playing a different gender.

The 4-year-old Chihuahua, who lives with Ted Brightwell and Stephen Skidmore, will play the role of Bruiser, Elle's dog, in the show.

"She's playing a cross dresser in the show," Brightwell said with a laugh.

Thudd landed the role after working with the Guild on publicity photos for the show. It will be her acting debut.

"I offered her for the photo session with [Micah] because she looked like the dog in the movie. Nina [Denton-Pasinetti] fell in love with her and said, 'Oh, she has to be in the show!'"

He warned the director that Thudd hadn't done anything like this before and that she wasn't trained. Still she wanted to try it, so Brightwell said OK.

So far, things have gone well. It helps that the role plays to Thudd's strengths.

"She's carried in every scene, so all she has to do is just look cute," Brightwell said. "And she's pretty good at that."

Atkinson, who plays Elle, and one other actress are the only two who handle Thudd. Brightwell said the girls weren't used to small dogs, so they had to work some on how to hold her. They have to be careful how much they show the audience.

"They were letting her dangle. Bruiser's a guy, and they were showing the audience she's not," he said and laughed.

Aside from making sure her lady parts are covered, there haven't been any problems. Brightwell was initially worried that the number of people would overwhelm Thudd.

"There are 30-odd people in the cast plus all the crew," he noted. "I wasn't sure how she'd react to that many people at once, but she's surprised me.

"She just likes the attention. She's very spoiled, so she's loving all this attention."

Another motivator is bribing her with treats when she exits the stage, if she's been good. Sadly, though, those treats aren't gourmet.

"I joked when we started, 'We have to have our own dressing room, gourmet doggie treats and top billing,'" Brightwell said.

"We haven't gotten any of those things."

As for Thudd's future as a performer, who knows?

Brightwell laughed. "Maybe she'll get discovered and do commercials and make me a very rich person."

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.


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