St Bernard Yogi Bear is star of Curve Leicester's Finding Neverland
Weighing in at a massive 85kg, Curve's latest star is pounding the boards, rather than treading them.
St Bernard Yogi Bear has landed his first thespian role as Nana, the loveable canine in the Leicester theatre's blockbuster musical, Finding Neverland.
The performing pet debuted on Saturday in front of a sell-out audience, which included U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge.
It was the first time Yogi had trodden the boards, but he remained the consummate professional throughout his time in the limelight.
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Owner Ruth Gibson, 68, said: "We were more nervous than he was. He's as calm as anything."
The seven-year-old was chosen for the role by trainer Cindy Sharville, who has been preparing him since February.
Cindy said: "I was standing in the wings for the whole show praying he would be okay – and he was. He was fabulous.
"He has an understudy – Porthos, a one-year-old bitch – but she will only step in if Yogi can't make it."
The team began rehearsals at Curve on August 6, but also had to put in some pre-rehearsal sessions to get the dog used to the buzz of the theatre.
Ruth said: "The challenging thing was to get him to ignore what's going on around him.
"But he's really good, he doesn't react to applause, or singing, or children running around the stage.
"The only thing we weren't sure about was bagpipes – so before we started rehearsals we played him a CD of bagpipe music until it didn't bother him anymore."
Yogi has not learned to cope with the noise and has also learned to take his cue from music in the show.
Cindy said: "He knows when a particular tune means he's needed and starts making his own way to the stage."
Owner Ruth said it would not be possible without a little motivation.
"He loves the attention but it's about the treats – it's all about the treats," she said.
"Julian [Ovenden, who plays JM Barrie in the production] is really good with him, and Yogi has started to associate him with treats – every pocket Julian has has a treat in it."
Between scenes, Yogi relaxes backstage in his own purpose-built area – and has become "a bit of a diva," according to Ruth.
"He's good as gold, he has an area and he chills in between scenes," she said.
"He has his bed and his bowl of water and just lays there snoring in between scenes.
"When it's a particularly quiet scene you can hear him, but it's best to leave him be."
Despite this being Yogi's theatrical debut, the thespian hound is no stranger to performing.
He has won best in show at open and club events 13 times and was displayed at Crufts this year.
He has also appeared on television and taken part in numerous photo shoots.
For more information about the show, or to buy tickets, visit the website: