In the musical “Annie,” a spunky orphan relies on her dog Sandy to get her through tough times.

Pet owners and experts can relate to that. Studies show that when humans interact with animals, it facilitates healing and increases the hormone oxytocin, which makes us feel happier.

Because the show highlights the benefits of loving a pet, the Omaha Community Playhouse will have a visit from therapy dogs during its run of the popular musical, which opens Friday.

Wag Therapy day will be Sept. 22 in the theater’s lobby, beginning at 1 p.m. before the 2 p.m. performance. Six dogs from Midlands Pet Therapy will be on hand for patrons to pet and enjoy. The event is free to people with tickets to that day’s show.

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The theater also plans a special celebration on opening night, with face painting, a magician, a balloon artist, refreshments and more. It begins at 6:30 p.m. for those with tickets to the 7:30 show.

In addition, the Oct. 11 show will be interpreted in American Sign Language and the Oct. 12 performance will be sensory-friendly with assistance from the Autism Action Partnership. Special accommodations will be made for those with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs, including low-level house lights throughout the show, warnings when triggering events such as loud noises or bright lights are about to occur and designated quiet zones in the lobby.

More than 35 performers will take the stage for the story of Annie (Stella Clark-Kaczmarek), who lives under the thumb of a mean attendant at the orphanage and yearns to find her parents. Her life takes a positive turn when Daddy Warbucks (Jay Srygley) enters the scene.

Kimberly Faith Hickman is director for the musical, which runs through Oct. 13.

Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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