Donkeys take to the stage for audition to bag a role in Carmen at Portsmouth theatre

Tom Chambers as  Bobby and company in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

Nice Work If You Can Get It for former Strictly winner Tom Chambers in Crazy For You at Mayflower Theatre

  • Two donkeys have been picked to star in a market scene in Carmen
  • The much-loved opera will be at the Kings Theatre in Southsea
  • Rusty and Ollie are both looking forward to the show
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MANY actors lust for fortune and fame, but a couple of carrots and pat on the head will do these two just fine.

Donkeys Rusty, 20, and Ollie, 19, have just been chosen to star in a performance of Carmen at the Kings Theatre in Southsea.

Tracey and Paul Hunt with Sandra Smith, PR manager at the Kings Theatre with the Hayling Island Donkeys (left and right) Rusty and Ollie. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (151566-4072) PPP-150909-161054001

Tracey and Paul Hunt with Sandra Smith, PR manager at the Kings Theatre with the Hayling Island Donkeys (left and right) Rusty and Ollie. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (151566-4072) PPP-150909-161054001

The donkeys are owned by Paul and Tracey Hunt of Hayling Island, who own 10 of the animals for their business Hayling Island Donkeys.

Tracey said: ‘These two have a really firm bond between them. They pretty much do everything together.

‘They’re our favourites, although they say you shouldn’t have favourites.’

Tracey said Rusty was the more cheeky of the two, while Ollie was more ‘laid back and thoughtful.’

I couldn’t choose just one, so they’re both going to be in Carmen

Sandra Smith

‘We chose these two to audition because they’ve done a bit more and been to a few more places.’

Tracey and Paul will appear alongside the donkeys in the opera, a tale of Spanish heat and gypsy passion.

Tracey said: ‘We’ve been told we’ll both have to dress up as Spanish market traders.

‘I think we’ll be more nervous than they will be. It’ll be us who will have a sleepless night beforehand.’

Kings PR and corportate manager Sandra Smith she was enchanted by the pair.

She said: ‘There is a market scene and the director, Ellen Kent, wanted to have a donkey to make it all the more realistic. Her mother used to look after abandoned and injured donkeys and she’s a great supporter of them.’

Ms Smith said they originally planned on having only one donkey in the show, but Rusy and Ollie charmed her into changing her mind.

She said: ‘I couldn’t choose just one, so they’re both going to be in Carmen. I’m told they like music, so they’re in for a treat!’

Ms Kent said: ‘My mother used to run the equivalent of the RSPCA in Spain when I was growing up and the farm was full of 30 to 40 donkeys.

The animals were always my mother’s top priority.

‘It’s a tribute to her really that I use donkeys in the show – she would have been delighted and the audience always love it.’

Paul and Tracey often take their donkeys on visits to schools, fetes and nursing homes.

Paul said they were beautiful animals.

‘They make you feel very calm. If you’ve had a stressful day, just have a little donkey cuddle. They’re just nice to be around.’

The Hunts have owned Rusty and Ollie for almost nine years.

Carmen will be at the Kings on October 1.