Dog tricks by tail-wagging performers brought smiles to faces young and old as the Muttville Comix drew crowds of about 250 each to two family-friendly shows in the Ridgefield Playhouse’s outdoor tent on East Ridge.

“Families got to see a fun dog circus made up of rescue dogs, outside under the tent in a socially distanced safe way,” said Allison Stockel, executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse. “I think people were just so happy to have something nice to do with their kids.”

All the dogs in the show are strays and rescues from dog pounds and shelters.

The two Muttville Comix shows on Sunday, Sept. 27, were presented by the Ridgefield Playhouse in partnership with ROAR, the Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue. Stockel said she expected the event would raise money for the Playhouse and ROAR, which operates the animal shelter on South Street by the intersection with Ligi’s Way, near the town transfer station.

“I don’t have an amount yet — we have to go through our expenses, etc. — it will probably be around $1,000,” Stockel said of the funds raised. “But it was honestly less of a fundraiser for the two nonprofits, and more of a community event.”

With COVID-19 constraining indoor gatherings, the Ridgefield Playhosue has been putting on outdoor events in its circus-style tent on East Ridge, and has also had some in Ballard Park.

“The outdoor shows in general have been so well received. We are doing them through the month of October,” Stockel said.

“And then we will do some smaller shows inside that will seat about 150 to 180 socially distanced,” she said. “We are allowed half capacity now inside, but we feel that you can’t truly socially distance at half capacity so we are doing more like 35-40 percent capacity, depending on the show.”

The Muttville Comix have been coming to the Playhouse once every year or so since about 2002, Stockel said.

Johnny Peers, the human straight-man for much of the canine comedy, is a Ringling Brothers Clown College graduate. He and his dogs have appeared at venues ranging form the David Letterman Show to Disneyland to the White House.

The Muttville Comix performances on Sept. 27 were sponsored by Quarry Ridge Animal Hospital and Dr. Blaine Langberg Orthodontics, and were part of the Bruce Bennett Nissan Family Series at The Playhouse.