...please sir, can I have some paw?

KIRTON: After a difficult upbringing and a spell on the streets, little Stanley is looking forward to a new life as he treads the boards of an iconic Suffolk playhouse.

But he has some work to do as his first rehearsal saw him get over-excited and miss his cue to run across the stage.

The Staffordshire bull terrier is making his stage debut at the Spa Pavilion as Bill Sykes’s dog, Bullseye, in hit musical Oliver!

Despite never appearing on stage before, he is getting used to the rock star lifestyle with his own fan page on Facebook and a pre-show photo shoot.

But this comes as a welcome relief for the young dog, who was re-homed at the beginning of July with Carolyn and Craig Baxter, of Park Lane, Kirton, by the Blue Cross Centre in Walton High Street.

Carolyn, 45, said: “We already had a rescue dog and we had recently lost an older dog, but we didn’t have any plans to replace her.

“We went to the Blue Cross to get a bird, not another dog, but he was up at the front behind reception because he was so poorly, and we couldn’t help but notice him.

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“We enquired and one thing led to another.”

She added: “I didn’t really know much about the breed beforehand, but since then, I’ve been learning about it and I think it’s a shame they have such a bad reputation because he’s so well behaved.

“He is so lovely. His nature is absolutely adorable and he’s so friendly and and loving to everything and everyone. He’s a right little character and a real pleasure to have around.

“At the first rehearsal on stage, it was all madness. He just got so excited and playful he didn’t know which way to go.

“We are just hoping on the night he doesn’t run amok.”

Stanley lived at first with a young family but was given to a man who later became homeless, meaning they both ended up living on the streets.

He became so malnourished he was eventually brought to the Blue Cross to be rehomed.

Oliver! director Julie Locke, 51, of Longcroft, Felixstowe, is a volunteer at the animal adoption centre and spotted Stanley’s star potential shortly after he had been rehomed.

Julie said: “I think he got a bit too over-excited at the first rehearsal. He got a bit hot and bothered, so he didn’t do what he was supposed to do.

“He didn’t flinch at all when Bill Sykes smashed down his staff, which might be a relic of when he lived on the streets - obviously noises don’t faze him at all.

“He’s a lovely dog. The only thing we’ve got to make sure of is he doesn’t roll on his back to have his belly rubbed in the middle of the show.”

The show runs from Thursday to Saturday, including a matinee performance. Tickets are on sale from the box office on 01394 282126.

There will also be a raffle, with proceeds going to the Blue Cross and the EACH Treehouse Appeal.

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