Dolly collars lead role in IODS’ Oliver

Acting, it’s a dog eat dog world; just ask the pooches who were looking to collar the role of Bill Sikes’ four-legged friend Bullseye in Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of Oliver!

They may not have any lines, but it’s more than a walk(ies) on role.

“Our perfect dog will be one who won’t be fazed by being on stage with the other actors and who will look tough enough to be the companion of such a nasty character as Bill,” said director James Hayward.

“Naturally, their owners won’t need to go on stage so the dog will need to be happy performing alongside him. He has to appear with his master in the tavern scene, where Bill sings his chilling My Name.

“Later, after Sikes has murdered Nancy, Bullseye has to lead the Bow Street Runners to the house from which Sikes makes his roof-top escape.”

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Unlike the naturally fur-coated canines who turned up to audition at Basepoint Business Centre, Ransomes Europark, we were feeling the chill as we sat down in the car park hoping to score a bullseye.

Tammy Meras and two-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell cross Dylen, from Martlesham, were first to try out. Dylen had never done anything like this before but enjoyed meeting the children.

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Stephanie and Denise Young, from Ipswich, brought 16-month-old French bulldog Basil, also a novice. If the panting in my ear was any indication, he enjoyed the youngsters’ rendition of Food Glorious Food.

The winner?

Hello Dolly, an English bull terrier from Felixstowe who proved every dog has its day.

Playing against gender shouldn’t be a problem for the eight-year-old; she’s played Bullseye before at the Spa Pavilion.

“It was with Stage Door about five or six years ago,” beamed pleased owner Clare Holmes.

“She’s as good as gold; brilliant with kids and really laid-back. She’s just a baby at the end of the day; likes the attention, the fuss, just like any dog really.”

Clare’s husband Danny works with disabled youngsters and children with special needs and Dolly goes along to meet them. When Danny was poorly a few years ago Dolly also visited elderly people in hospital.

Clare and family are looking forward to seeing her on stage at the Regent and have no worries about her bonding with Jonathan Mudd, who plays Sikes.

“She’s just got to familiarise herself with him and both get to know each other a little bit, then she’ll be more confident with him. When they start rehearsing together she should be fine.”

Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society take the stage of the Regent Theatre this April with the family classic, based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist and packed with famous songs.

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