RENO, Nev. (AP) -- This summer's Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival has produced an unlikely star: a pit bull named Michael who narrowly escaped euthanasia.

Festival organizers and audience members say the 6-year-old American Staffordshire terrier has turned out to be a hoot in his role as Crab the dog in the comedy, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."

They say Michael plays a miscreant of sorts who doesn't care to please his owner, and his different spontaneous reactions to his owner's laments prompt laughter.

His real owner, Michelle Okashima of Incline Village, says Michael was scheduled for euthanasia in 2006 in Reno after he was found running loose and he went unclaimed.

She says she's grateful for his last-minute rescue and his selection for the play.

The festival near Incline Village continues through Aug. 26.