WATCH: Bogart steals the spotlight in Shakespeare in Love but he’s still a good boy

2018-09-19 13:13

Cape Town – I’ve sat down and interviewed a lot of celebrities over the years, but this was truly the first time ever I got licked in the face during an interview. 

To be totally honest I welcomed it wholeheartedly.

Bogart, one of the stars of The Fugard’s Shakespeare in Love production, totally steals the spotlight every time he appears on stage and I get the feeling his fellow actors don’t mind it a bit.

His energy is infectious and his comic timing impeccable – which might seem like the least you would expect from an actor, except Bogart is a dog and his acting skills are level with that of his human co-stars. 

Bogart, as Spot, evokes shrieks of pure joy and excited applause whenever he bursts onto stage in his costume which consists of a pleated Elizabethan ruff collar. 

With his shaggy coat of fur, one blue eye, and one brown eye it’s like this four-year-old pup was born for the role. In fact Shakespeare in Love is Bogart’s stage debut and he’s taken to it like a fish to water. 

I meet Bogart and handler Jill Stephens from Animal Tails backstage at the Fugard Theatre to have a quick chat about the K9-star’s budding career.

“This is his first and only role so far,” Jill tells me as a very friendly Bogart excitedly jumps up and down to greet me. I have to refrain myself from throwing my notebook aside and rolling around on the floor with him. (I just want to hug him!)

When Bogart was adopted nearly a year-and-a-half ago he had no skills for the stage at all, but through lots of love, positive reinforcement, and training he has bloomed into a real scene stealer. 

It’s clear that for Bogart this isn’t a job at all, but rather a fun time with friends. He gets to hang out with his fellow actors backstage and play games with them onstage while an adoring crowd applauds. 

“He just loves learning and we do it through playing games. He wants to do stuff because it’s fun,” Jill tells me as Bogart runs to his bowl and slobbers up big gulps of water returning to hand out some wet kisses. We’re sitting in a large backstage area where Bogart hangs out when he’s not on stage. His co-stars know not to fuss over him too much – he’s just another one of the crew. “He absolutely loves it and is always so excited when we arrive at the theatre.”


When it came to casting the role of Spot, Jill and Nicole Jennings from Animal Tails sat together to see which dog would best fit the character. “Bogart just has this confidence and exuberance that made him perfect for the role. Although he didn’t have any experience we felt he was a perfect fit. We then brought him to the theatre to meet with director Greg Karvellas and everyone else from the Fugard and I think they just instantly fell in love with him.”

And it’s easy to see why this bouncy ball of energy crawls into the hearts of everyone that crosses paths with him.

Capetonians have until 6 October to catch this fur-actor on stage in the show’s second run currently taking place at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Written by Lee Hall and adapted from the Academy Award-winning (1999) screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love was a runaway success last year and is really back with a bang. 

The show is an energetic mix between drama and comedy with a magnificent cast that includes the Fleur du Cap winning actress Robyn Scott as Elizabeth I, Roxane Hayward as Viola de Lesseps, Cape Talk’s John Maytham as Fennyman, and Armand Aucamp as Kit Marlowe

Shakespeare in Love will be performed from Tuesday to Saturday at 20:00 with a 15:00 matinee on Saturdays. There will be Sunday matinee performances at 15:00 on 23 and 30 September. The show will end on 6 October. Tickets from R150 to R350 can be booked through the Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554 or through the Fugard Theatre’s website

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