Winston the British bulldog sprinkled a little stardust when he visited tenants at our Harriet Court care scheme in Lakenham, Norwich, today [15 March 2018].
The aspiring doggy actor will shortly take up the role of Rufus in Legally Blonde: The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal.
After the auditions held at Castle Mall last month, Winston won the chance to star alongside the show’s human cast – Rita Simons (Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders), Lucie Jones (the UK’s 2017 Eurovision Song Contest entrant) and Bill Ward (Coronation Street and Emmerdale). He will join the musical’s resident canine actor, Bruiser the Chihuahua, on stage when the show arrives in Norwich later this month.
Winston’s owner Rhonda Dunthorne (pictured right with her partner James Madden) is deputy manager at Harriet Court. The housing with care scheme home has 40 flats, which tenants rent from us while NorseCare provides on-site care to them. Rhonda said:
“I work at Harriet Court so some days Winston comes to work with me. There are tenants here who have had dogs all their lives but can’t have dogs now so they love to see him. It brightens their day and makes them smile. They make a fuss of him. He probably comes in once a month. He would come more if he could, but I obviously have to get my work done!”
Rhonda thinks Winston will be fine on stage:
“He’s good on the lead, good off the lead, so hopefully fingers crossed all will be well.”
Winston’s joint owner James added:
“It’s going to be a massive experience. We’ve never done anything like this before. Winston will just want to go and meet everybody. He’s very calm, obedient and well-socialised and just loves people.”
Winston has been preparing to tread the boards with lots of socialising – and the tenants appreciated his efforts.
Betty Griffin, aged 88 (pictured), has lived at Harriet Court for two years but sometimes feels lonely having lost her husband just before Christmas. She said:
“Winston comes into my room and jumps on my bed. He likes having his back tickled. I used to have little black poodles and bred them with my husband, so it’s nice when Winston comes in.”
Molly Gunton, 89, has been at Harriet Court for eight years. She said:
“I just love it and living here is the best thing that has happened to me. My dad was a gamekeeper and I grew up with black labradors, so it’s nice to see dogs here.”
Peter Cawdron, 77, who has been at Harriet Court eight months, said:
“Winston’s gorgeous, so friendly. I love all animals but I like them more when they are friendly!”
Pauline Scott, 86, has been at Harriett Court for a year.
“I think Winston is lovely. I’ve seen the Legally Blonde film and I think it’s wonderful he is going to be in the theatre show.”
Some of the tenants are looking forward to seeing Rufus in action at the show, which runs at Norwich Theatre Royal from 26-31 March 2018.
Photo of Betty Griffin by Anthony Kelly