Auditions of a rather unusual kind have been taking place at Sheffield city centre’s Crucible Theatre - no bones about it.
English bull terriers are required for the role of villain Bill Sykes’s dog, Bullseye, in the Christmas production of Oliver!
And, because of the number of performances, which stretch over almost two months, three dogs are needed.
Among those trying out for the role was Paddy, aged seven, from Dungworth, brought along by Adriece Reynolds, from Dungworth, and her daughter Hebe, aged 15.
Describing Paddy’s audition, Adriece said: “They just wanted to see if he would stand with Hebe then come to me when I was hidden out of sight.
“He had to go down a tunnel by himself and answer to the name Bullseye, which he did.”
Adriece, who entered Paddy after seeing a story in The Star’s sister newspaper, the Sheffield Telegraph, said: “We have had Paddy since he was a puppy and have never done anything like this before. We did it for the laugh but he was quite good.”
Coming from further afield was Sonia Ranby, from Leeds, with her dog, Dave, aged six.
She said: “We entered Dave because of seeing an advert on the English bull terrier internet forum. He’s never done anything like it before.
“If he does get through, it will be quite an experience.”
Emily Clarke, for Sheffield Theatres, said: “We had eight dogs entered for the auditions and are looking for three to take on the role due to the amount of time they will be needed.
“There are rehearsals then there is a long production run.
“We are looking for similar-looking bull terriers who are good with children and don’t mind crowds - they’ll be performing in front of a packed auditorium.”
Composer Lionel Bart’s award-winning adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel takes to the Crucible stage from Friday, November 29, to Saturday, January 25.
Oliver! follows the story of an orphan who runs away from a workhouse and falls in with a gang of boys trained to be pickpockets by gang leader, Fagin, and includes well-known songs such as Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, Oom-Pah-Pah and As Long As He Needs Me.
The show will be directed by Daniel Evans, Sheffield Theatres’ artistic director, and will be his third musical for the company, following critically-acclaimed productions of My Fair Lady and This Is My Family.