Ahead of Newport Riverfront’s pantomime Beauty And The Beast opening next week Andy Howells chats to pantomime dame Lee Mengo.

Christmas is coming and so is Newport Riverfront’s annual pantomime.

This years production Beauty and The Beast sees the return of three popular performers from last years sell-out success Robin Hood, S4C Tag presenter and Pobol Y Cwm star Elin Llwyd, Eastenders and Gwaith Cartref's Richard Elis, and everyone's favourite Dame, Lee Mengo.

This will be Lee’s sixth year in the role of pantomime Dame and he’s still enjoying taking part!

“Its completely different from everything I do,” he told me, “I’ve just finished a run in The Sherman Theatre in a Russian play and even though it was a comedy, nothing can prepare you for panto. What’s really good this year is that there’s a few familiar faces and there are some new faces in the cast. It all really gels quickly so that really helps with energy and trying stuff out.”

Beauty and the Beast follows the spell-binding story of a selfish prince who is destined to spend the rest of his life hidden in his castle in the guise of a grotesque beast. Resourceful heroine Beauty (Elin Llwyd) rushes to the rescue with her madcap French pals including lee as delectable panto dame Dominique Derrière and her slapstick son 'Potty' Pascal (Richard Elis). The pair’s crazy hare-brained capers are set to keep audiences on the edge of their seats!

Lee has nothing but praise for his working partnership with Richard Elis, “its our fourth time now working together and there’s been chemistry there from day one,” he says, “ Elin’s back this year playing principal girl again so that’s superb!”.

Lee points out that this version of Beauty and The Beast shouldn’t be confused with the Disney film version, “Its complete panto, I think some people might expect the Disney version of Beauty and The Beast but you won’t get that! There are a couple of original songs in there, which is really nice. Lots of different stuff going on, but its still panto.

Beauty and The Beast opens at The Riverfront on December 3 and continues until January 5. For full information on ticket prices visit https://nccsec.newport.gov.uk/tickets/ or call box office on (01633) 656757