YOGI Bear has proved he is smarter than the average St Bernard after landing a stage part working with Hollywood producers.

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The seven-year-old dog is starring as JM Barrie’s faithful friend, Nana, in Harvey Weinstein’s musical Finding Neverland.

The play, which is about the events that led the author to write Peter Pan, is based on the 2004 film, also produced by Mr Weinstein, starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman.

It portrays JM Barrie’s epiphany while walking through Kensington Gardens in London and meeting Silvia Llewelyn Davies and her children who inspired him to create Neverland.

Yogi, who is a seasoned professional for photoshoots and live television, appearing alongside Anne Robinson on the appropriately named Watchdog, makes his full debut tonight (Wednesday) at Leicester’s Curve theatre.

The show previewed on September 22 and the 85kg (13stone) star performed in front of a sell-out audience which included U2 stars Bono and The Edge.

His owner Ruth Gibson, from Sawtry, said: “He was head dog hunted! One of the agencies, Animals Galore, who Yogi has worked for thought he’d be perfect for the play and gave us the call.

“I’m so proud of Yogi. He is amazing, and is coping admirably with the performances and with the commuting. He’s very impressive and has learnt his cues, so that when he hears parts of the music, he walks on. The leading man Julian Ovenden does brilliantly with Yogi. He is a superb bloke and Yogi is very fond of him – although it is strange seeing my dog act so fondly of someone else.”

Despite being used to the crowds of Crufts, Yogi had to take extra rehearsals to adjust to the sounds and sights of the theatre and was played a CD of bagpipe music until it stopped bothering him.

Yogi, who will appear in the play for 10 night and four matinee performances, even has his own bed backstage and inbetween his appearances on stage will have a quick doze.

“He acts like a star and he has his own backstage area,” Mrs Gibson. “Yogi loves doing the play, he gets so much attention from all the actors, he’s even met Harvey [Weinstein] and he loves Yogi.”

Yogi’s next stop could be the West End.

Mrs Gibson added: “We’re hoping that the play will go to London and we’ll go with it.”

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