The Kings has really gone to the dogs with its latest opera

Melody the Greyhound poses for the camera  Picture : Habibur Rahman
Melody the Greyhound poses for the camera Picture : Habibur Rahman
Portsmouth Comic Con at The Guildhall - Ghostbuster Lee Kiddie with the Slimer model and Proton Pack Projector he made and displays for charity. Picture: Vernon Nash (180382 -291)

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THEY are the dogs known as the ‘companions of kings’ and now two of them will be doing their best to live up to that when they appear on stage as part of a regal court.

Greyhounds Sox and Melody – plus their owner Vickie Worsdale – will make cameo appearances in Ellen Kent’s production of Verdi’s opera Rigoletto when it comes to The Kings Theatre in Southsea this weekend.

Mel Abell, Sarah Redpath, Vicky Worsdale, Emily Dorey and Suzanne Englezos with all the greyhounds     '''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mel Abell, Sarah Redpath, Vicky Worsdale, Emily Dorey and Suzanne Englezos with all the greyhounds '''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Ellen Kent’s productions have a reputation for lavishness, spectacle and walk-on roles for live animals, and her latest production is no different, featuring a golden eagle and the two greyhounds in the depiction of the Mantuan Ducal Court.

The pair were rescue dogs from the Portsmouth branch of The Greyhound Trust, which also has understudies on standby.

Sarah Redpath, the branch’s kennel manager said: ‘Ellen has always had a history of wanting to work with rescue animals for her shows. She called me last year to ask if we had two greyhounds that might be suitable. I thought of Sox and Melody straight away because they’re so sociable and they are fabulous ambassadors for us.

‘Both Sox and Melody,have found their forever homes, and are looking forward to making their stage debuts, and we hope that this will help some of the 30 greyhounds in the kennels to find their forever homes and perhaps meet up in the near future with Sox and Melody at one of their regular coffee shop haunts in and around Petersfield.’

Vickie, from Petersfield, said: ‘They’re very chilled out dogs and they’re good in all different situations, they’ll love it, I’m sure.’ Neither Vickie nor the dogs has any stage experience: ‘I’ve never done anything like this, but I’ll do it for the dogs and to raise awareness of them.’

Ellen has long been a campaigner for animal welfare – her mother ran an animal sanctuary in Spain for many years – and after talking to a representative from a local greyhound charity outside her local supermarket and hearing how these beautiful dogs can be so cruelly abandoned once their running days are done, she determined to try and help raise awareness of their plight.

Ellen added: ‘To be able to promote animal welfare and preservation of endangered species through the drama and spectacle of my operas is a great joy and privilege for me.’

The Greyhound Trust Portsmouth rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes greyhounds, taking dogs from greyhound trainers, other rescues and dog wardens. Its running costs are up to £5,000 every month.

To talk to the trust about potentially rehoming a dog, call 01730 893255, or email portsmouth@greyhoundtrust.org.uk

Rigoletto is at The Kings at 7.30pm on Sunday, January 21. Tickets from £24.50. Go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk.