Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Real Wizard of Oz; Pampered Pooch: Bobby Takes a Break Backstage from His Star Turn as Toto in the Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall and Meets Some Fans after the Show, Far Left. Trainer and Former Boomtown Rats Guitarist Gerry Cott, Right, Says He Has Natural Star Quality

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Real Wizard of Oz; Pampered Pooch: Bobby Takes a Break Backstage from His Star Turn as Toto in the Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall and Meets Some Fans after the Show, Far Left. Trainer and Former Boomtown Rats Guitarist Gerry Cott, Right, Says He Has Natural Star Quality

Article excerpt

Byline: ELLEN WIDDUP

WHEN The Wizard Of Oz opened at the Royal Festival Hall this week the reviews were patchy. Except for the character Toto, Dorothy's faithful dog, who was widely praised by the critics, including the Evening Standard's Nicholas de Jongh who singled out his "eye-catching canine charisma".

Today we can reveal that Toto is played by Bobby, a West Highland terrier who has something of a showbusiness pedigree - he is the protege of former Boomtown Rats guitarist Gerry Cott.

Mr Cott, who founded the group with Bob Geldof but quit before their fifth album was released, has coached Bobby to perform tricks that leave audiences open-mouthed.

Mr Cott, 55, who lives with his wife Cathy and sons Harry, 19, and Sonny, 11, near Leatherhead, said: "He has integrated so well with the cast because he is so calm and relaxed. Our method of training works on the dog's character and confidence, which means they can be comfortable even on stage in front of hundreds of people." Bobby, who has already made a name for himself in film and TV, is snowy white - the opposite of the black dog Frank Baum's book describes- and has learned to climb ladders, play dead, jump, whimper and howl on command.

He has even developed his own prima donna streak - interrupting Dorothy's rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow on opening night with a couple of playful yelps. "It is a bit like, 'Look at me, look at me,' " said Mr Cott. "It was a little unfair of him to muscle in on such a lovely moment in the play." He and Harry, who is working as Bobby's chaperone during the show's run, spent a week integrating the dog with the cast and teaching Sian Brooke, who plays Dorothy, a series of silent cues to prompt his performance.

Bobby has a rigorous schedule, with eight shows spread out over a six-day week - roughly four hours of acting a day. …

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