Hey, who made him the star?

If you had been at the Cliffs Pavilion in Westcliff, England, last Saturday night for the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society's production of the musical "Oliver!", you'd have seen Les Cannon as Fagin, Sarah Meadows in the role of Nancy, and Bradley Thompson playing Bill Sykes. But one significant member of the cast was missing: Bronx, a dog that early in the run had appeared as Bullseye, Sykes's bull terrier. Alas, Bronx's owner, Edward James, was asked to leave his canine at home for the final performance. It seems others in the company had become disgusted and wanted him gone. Why? Well, because "Oliver!", adapted from the movie of the same name and the Charles Dickens novel, "Oliver Twist," isn't a comedy, but Bronx managed to turn it into one. He proved to be a constant distraction and once, as James puts it, "He got on stage when Bill was having a romantic moment with Nancy" and did what dogs sometimes do – a sort of routine in which one hind leg flaps and thumps on the floor. In short, Bronx stole the show. "Everyone" in the audience, James admitted, "started laughing." No comment from the society, but with its proud history that's something it wasn't prepared to put up with. After all, it has a reputation to uphold. Since being founded in 1890, it has staged more than 200 shows, among them "Brigadoon," and "Kismet."

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