KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - The Texas Shakespeare Festival is underway in Kilgore, and this summer, an unusual actress is stealing the spotlight. East Texas pup, Ella Jo, has overcome many hardships, including homelessness, on her journey to stardom. Under the bright lights, she joins a team of talented thespians starring in the Shakespeare play Two Gentlemen of Verona.
"She has a great personality [and] a really good demeanor," said Emily Brooks. "She is so friendly with anyone."
Ella Jo is only four years old. Her big brown eyes and chocolate hair captivate the audience.
"It was specifically written for a dog to come on stage," said Luke Eddy.
Eddy and Brooks are Ella Jo's proud parents and actors in the festival. The couple was not on the market for dog when the stray pup wandered into their living room.
"I already had a dog and a cat [and] didn't need another one, but she was too sweet," said Brooks.
Before stealing her heart, a trip to the vet was necessary to make sure she was healthy and not pregnant.
"The vet assured us that 95% sure, unless she had been bred within the week she was not pregnant and eight weeks later, we had seven puppies in our house," said Brooks.
The mommy mutt is a natural on stage. At times, unruly, but perfect for the part of "Crab".
"The dog is spoken about in the show as being very ill-behaved and sour natured so a perfectly trained dog wouldn't be nearly as fitting as she is," said Brooks.
"We've had an actual encounter of her breaking the leash right as she was crossing on to stage and at that point she ran into the audience," said Eddy.
On or off stage, Ella Jo is an addition to the family and welcomed by the entire company.