It's not always bad when the show goes to the dogs.

Two four-legged actors will join their human counterparts in performances of "Annie" when it opens Friday at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre in York City.

One of the dogs, a corgi and shih tzu mix named Scooter, is a shelter dog who has been calling the York County SPCA home.

"This is a unique opportunity for us," said Melissa Smith, executive director of the SPCA, of Scooter being in the musical.

Though Scooter is up for adoption, Smith said someone has filled out an application to take home the pint-sized pooch.

In the meantime, Diane Crews, artistic director at the theater, is fostering Scooter as he rehearses and performs in the musical.

Stray: Fittingly, Scooter plays a stray dog on the run from a dogcatcher in the musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1977. However, art didn't exactly imitate life in Scooter's case.

His owner surrendered him to the SPCA when a landlord disallowed pets in the residence.

Since Scooter may have a home waiting for him, Smith said she hopes to have other adoptable pets in the lobby of the theater on show days.

Smith said showcasing an adoptable pet shows not all pets are surrendered to the SPCA because of behavioral issues.

The second dog in the show, Bailey, has already been through the adoption experience.

The 7-year-old male cockapoo was adopted from the SPCA five years ago by Kim Martin of New Salem and has been in seven shows at DreamWrights.

This time around, Bailey plays Sandy, the dog essentially adopted by the redheaded orphan Annie in the musical.

"He doesn't like to walk," said 12-year-old Leah Jameson, who plays Annie. "He loves to run."

Another dog, Katie Ann, 2, will play Sandy with the second cast that will perform the musical during the 12-performance run.

At home: To help acquaint Leah and Bailey with each other, the dog stayed with Leah and her family in their West Manchester Township home for a few days.

That gave the two actors a chance to rehearse their scenes, said Laura Jameson, Leah's mother.

Unlike some children introduced to dogs, Leah, who has been involved with DreamWrights since age 5, and her brother, Ian, 10, who also has a part in "Annie," weren't prompted to bug their parents for a pooch of their own after spending a few days with Bailey.

"That didn't spark them to say 'I want a dog,'" Laura Jameson said.

While including dogs in shows is not a new concept for DreamWrights, there is one new addition to the family-friendly theater.

For the first time ever, a pit orchestra will play the score of "Annie" during each show, Crews said.

In the past, an audio recording or pianist or small band played the musical accompaniment, she said.

The orchestra is composed of musicians who are giving their time to perform. Crews said she hopes to bring the group back for other shows.

"If they like us and would be willing to play with us, we would love to have them," she said.

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

Where to see 'Annie'

"Annie" will be performed at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre starting Friday and continuing through Dec. 16.

Shows start at 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are $12 for reserved seating and $8 for general admission.

A playlet and breakfast with Santa designed for young children will be held on two Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, at 9 a.m. Tickets are $15.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office, 100 Carlisle Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling 848-8623, ext. 1, or by going to dreamwrights.org.