FOR most performers who are preparing for a show, plucking and preening to perfection is essential.

But when you are a pooch playing a part described as “a dragfooted sheepdog, gray of muzzle and with pale, blind old eyes”, pampering goes out of the window.

However, Berry the German shepherd-collie cross is taking it all in her four-legged stride as she gears up to appear as Candy’s dog in Of Mice and Men at the Octagon from Thursday.

She was one of nine hopefuls who auditioned for the part last month.

Owner Susan Lock, aged 46, said: “I did buy her a new collar but she isn’t allowed to wear it in the production.

“They said when she came for the audition, ‘can you tatty her up a bit?’”

Instead of regular brushes and baths, eight-year-old Berry has been attending rehearsals and getting used to working with actor David Fleeshman, who plays her owner Candy.

Mrs Lock, who has had Berry since she was eight weeks old, said: “When it comes to the production and the lights and audience are there, I just hope she sticks to what she is supposed to be doing.

“I’m more nervous than her. She knows something different is happening as she’s going out a lot more in the evening.

“She will be going out every evening when the play is on.

“She seems to enjoy it and the fact that she gets to go out in the car.”

Octagon artistic director David Thacker said: “Berry already knows her lines very well and is incredibly professional in rehearsals.

“She brings a wonderful level of energy to the rehearsal room and is a delight to work with.”

Mrs Lock and her family are looking forward to cheering Berry on at one of the shows during the 33-performance run.

The mother-of-two added: “She seems to lounge a lot more on the settee, expecting you to bring her stuff. It’s what she does most of the time, sit and lounge.

“I asked, does she get her equity card? Does she want to go to RADA? But there’s nothing.”

So after treading the boards at the Octagon, Berry has no plans to try to conquer Hollywood and will be content enjoying her favourite pastimes of lazing on the sofa and going for the occasional swim in Rivington.

Of Mice and Men, a compelling story of friendship and loyalty, is at the Octagon from Thursday to Saturday, February 16.

Tickets are £9.50 to £23.50. Call 01204 520661 or visit