La Boheme seeks talented dog for Playhouse show

Your dog could soon be treading the boards. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
Your dog could soon be treading the boards. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
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A wee Scottish dog is being sought to share the stage with international opera stars for a one-night-only performance of La Boheme.

Chisinau National Opera, from Moldova, is joining forces with the Philharmonic Orchestra to stage the favourite at the Playhouse.

But, it is missing a vital cast member – Muzetta’s pet dog.

Director and producer Ellen Kent is holding auditions for the coveted role and has a ruff idea of the ideal cast member.

She said: “It’s a bit like the X-Factor for dogs. They come in and walk around, then we choose a winner and a runner-up so if the winner can’t do it, the other does. It’s basically a dog and an understudy, it’s very cute. The dog makes two entrances, one ten minutes or so into act two, the cafe scene, which is a grand entrance, and eventually goes out having greeted a few people.

“It comes in again a bit later as the scene is nearing its end. I’d say it’ll be on stage for five to ten minutes in all.”

On the night, the dog will get a short rehearsal with the orchestra and singers, then if it seems happy and relaxed it will appear as the character Muzetta’s dog.

The owner of the dog may need to act as Muzetta’s maid and accompany their pet on stage for the short stint under the spotlight at the theatre on March 14.

While all breeds are welcome to audition, the dog has to be small and well behaved.

Ms Kent said: “We want a well-behaved dog but also want a dog that’s full of confidence and struts its stuff. You get some dogs who love walking confidently and cheekily across the stage.

“We’re looking for a dog with character, one that likes to be admired, dogs who want to show off in front of people and that enjoy the experience.

“You do get dogs that are scared of noise, lights, people, children that are snappy and aggressive. We don’t want dogs like that, we want friendly, cute little dogs like Jack Russells, Pugs, little French dogs, puppy poodles. Basically a cheeky little dog with stage appeal.”

Sung in Italian with English subtitles, La Boheme is based on Henri Murger’s novel Scenes de la vie de boheme and focuses on the love between seamstress Mimi and poet Rodolfo. After falling in love instantly, Rodolfo later leaves Mimi due to her flirty behaviour, although he is wracked by guilt since their life together has probably worsened Mimi’s delicate constitution.

In true tragic opera fashion, the pair reunite briefly at the end before fate intervenes.

Ms Kent, who has previously cast various animals, said it added to the fun of the production.

She said: “People say never work with children or animals but I love to do both. The first time was 20 years ago when my pet cat Holly Go-Lightly was in one of my productions and was an instant hit.

“Since then we’ve had horses, goldfish and even a golden eagle with a 6ft wingspan on stage.

“Many years ago, when we last did La Boheme and asked local people to volunteer their pets, it was a huge success.

“We even used a rescue dog once and found him dozens of new owners. Another went on The One Show. People are dog crazy. We are expecting a massive response from the people of Edinburgh and their dogs.”

To audition your dog, send a photograph to Sadie Williams at sadie@ellenkent.co.uk with a contact number and address as well as the breed, height, weight, age and name of the dog.

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