Donkey stars set to steal the limelight

THE cast in opera director Ellen Kent’s dazzling new production of Carmen is looking forward to welcoming two new additions to the company – donkeys Porridge and Rupert.

The donkeys will tread the boards alongside the Chisinau National Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra when they come to Aberdeen in April.

Award-winning producer/ director Ellen Kent spent her teenage years in Spain and has a rich store of experiences to draw as she weaves passion and drama into the shows at His Majesty’s Theatre.

She said: “Incorporating a donkey into the production lends it a real taste of Spain. 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 same number of dogs and even more cats.

“We used to travel miles across the countryside to festivals when they were planning to sacrifice a donkey. We’d buy the donkey off them and run – often chased by villagers. There was never a dull. The animals were always my mother’s her 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, especially as we try to use rescue donkeys from the local area.”

Porridge, a 10.2hh dapple-grey donkey, who lives near Aboyne, is no stranger to the limelight having appeared in fashion shows, Christmas productions and the Olympic Torch procession as well as various fundraising events in aid of The Brooke animal charity. Owner Diana Milligan says Porridge, 34, who will appear in the April 11 performance, loves people, music and being the centre of attention. Rupert, meanwhile, a 10.3hh grey donkey, whose nickname is Donk, will appear in the April 10 performance alongside owner Pamela Duncan from Huntly. A collection on both nights will raise money for donkey welfare. Tickets are on sale now from the box office on 01224 641122 or at www.boxofficeaberdeen.com.