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Love Dogs Eileen West

Scarlett the Starlet

With such a rash of doggie movie stars around at the moment never has the question of who is Hollywood’s top dog been so hotly debated.

In the satin lined kennel we have Uggie, the amazing Jack Russell who saves his master’s life in The Artist (my particular favourite) and who scooped the top canine award at the Cannes Film Festival by winning the Palm Dog and Best Dog in the Golden Collar awards.

In the studded and chained kennel we have Blackie, the ferocious Doberman guard dog who terrorises children (shouldn’t he be my favourite then?) in Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo whose omission from the Golden Collar shortlist has caused a bit of a hullabaloo.

And in the kennel with the bobbing corks there is Koko, the ginger Kelpie who unites a warring community in the Australian Outback road movie, Red Dog, and won Best Dog in a Foreign Film in the Golden Collar.

However, there is now a new contender:  Scarlett, who will make her stage debut this Thursday in His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen in Puccini’s Parisian opera, La Boheme.  Scarlett will play … well, herself actually as a sort of metaphor for her owner’s treatment of her paramour: a lapdog.

Scarlett, is an extremely charismatic,  8 year old orange roan Cocker spaniel with definite star quality  … who also happens to belong to me.

A week or so ago I was contacted by Danny Blythe, the Promotions Director of Derek Block Concert Promotions in London who saw Scarlett’s photograph on this very website and showed it to the production’s Director who decided she was the dog they’d been looking for.

A little hesitant at first about letting her get mixed up with ‘theatrical types’ as she’s already a bit of a diva, I was finally persuaded by Danny to let her have her moment in the spotlight as she would only have to walk on, sit at a cafe in the carnival scene in Act II then walk off again.  “She could do that” thought I.

“So someone would have her on the lead then?” my next question to which reply came “Yes, you!”

I’m only hoping there are no embarrassing accidents on stage.  And I’m not talking about Scarlett.  I can just see the headlines the next day “Impeccably Behaved Dog Disgraced by Owner in Popular Opera”.

From what I gather, I play Musetta, maid to tragic leading lady, Mimi.  Musetta has an admirer whom she treats as a lapdog and the producer of this particular show has run with the idea of using an actual dog.  This is where Scarlett comes in.  Although my costume has barely been mentioned there has been much toing and froing of emails regarding choices of lead for Scarlett.  It is as it should be.

Danny advised I not mention that Scarlett has a tendency to spontaneously sing (ok, howl) to random pieces of music.  She will also do it to my Sybil Fawlty impressions.  Danny then changed his mind and proposed that I do my Sybil in the dressing room just before we go on as it would make a much better story for the papers.  He also said not to tell anyone he suggested that.  Oops!

There has also been much toing and froing of communication with the theatre by my friends who have suddenly become opera buffs and want seats right up front in order to photograph and video Scarlett’s big moment.  A problem here on two counts: the production is pretty much sold out and photography and videoing is absolutely verboten – normally, but apparently there may be an exception with some relaxation of the rules in this case.  Everyone involved may well rue the day they ever set eyes on Scarlett!

On the other hand this could be the start of a wonderful new career for ‘Scarlett the Starlet’.  Next time, a woofing part?  Perhaps not.  Never mind the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood.  Scarlett will always be top dog to me

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