Dogs stars in annual Shakespeare Festival

By Nick EricksonStaff writer

The highlight of this year’s  17th annual Murray Shakespeare Festival, held all of last week,  was the first-ever partnership with the Humane Society of Calloway  County. Candy, a fostered therapy dog, played the role of Crab in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

Executive director of the Humane Society Kathy Hodges said the Humane Society was approached by Rusty Brown, English professor at Murray State.

“He wanted to see if we knew of an adopted dog that would have a suitable temperament and training to play Crab,” Hodges said. “We thought of Candy, who had been adopted for nine months.”

Hodges said the Humane Society met Candy because her new family fosters for the shelter.

“Candy’s new owner, Marie, is one of the instructors in one of our dog obedience classes,” Hodges said.

Hodges added she believes the collaboration with the festival is a delightful opportunity, and it was a great way to “have a focus on dog and puppy adoption throughout the festival.”

Posters of adoptable dogs and cats from the shelter were placed throughout Lovett Auditorium for the duration of the festival.

There was a myriad of special events, programs and performances. Among these were productions led by the renowned American Shakespeare Center of Staunton, Virginia, held in Lovett.

There were three performances of Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet.” Additionally, there was one performance of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

On top of the performances, there was a showing of the film “Warm Bodies” in the Curris Center Theater and a Shakespearean stage-conditions workshop in Lovett. One of the more engaging activities was the Chili Pepper Challenge, where students ate chili peppers and then attempted to recite Shakespeare.

Ben Palmer, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, said he believes the festival is a fun way to get college students to enjoy Shakespeare’s works better than by simply reading them.

“It seems like the majority of college students think Shakespeare is boring, old English stuff,” Palmer said. “This festival is a great way to get rid of the bad taste that studying his work in high school left in students’ mouths.”

Maleah Mikkelsen, freshman from Dyer, Tennessee, said she was glad Candy got a role in the production and promotion of adoption ensued all week.

“I’m happy they were advocating adoption all week and let the dog have a role in the play,” Mikkelsen said.  “It’s not everyday that you pay to go see a puppy star in a play.”

“Animal adoption is a beautiful thing,” Mikkelsen added. “Going by the handful of times I’ve been to the shelter in town, there are plenty of cats and dogs needing good homes.”

To anyone interested in adopting a furry best friend, contact the Humane Society at

Photos by Chalice Keith/The News