"Two Gentlemen of Verona"

"Two Gentlemen of Verona" (Handout photo / February 20, 2013)

Shakespeare wrote about dogs several times (our headline is from "The Merchant of Venice"), but only one of his plays features a dog with a name. Until March 17, you can catch that show -- "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" -- and the stage debuts of two local pups.

Norton and Ralph are King Charles spaniels raised from puppyhood by Chesapeake Shakespeare Company backstage manager Amanda Bennett, and for the next few weeks, they’ll assume the role of Crab the Dog in the show, which runs at The Other Barn, 5851 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia. Norton, 12, is the uncle of Ralph, 11, and both have attended cast rehearsals and enjoyed many treats onstage as they learned their parts.

It turns out even dog actors aren’t without drama; Norton and Ralph were cast in the show after the company’s first-choice dog, a black lab named Lily-Dog, was let go due to “creative differences” with management.

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona" runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at chesapeakeshakespeare.com or by calling 410-313-8661.