ANDY HOWELLS chats to Beauty and The Beast’s own comic turn Potty Pascale aka Richard Elis…
Richard Elis has been a familiar face on stage and screen for the best part of the last few decades. From appearing on television in EastEnders to treading the boards on the Sherman Theatre stage in Cynnau Tân, his acting career has been quite diverse, yet it is the world of pantomime he feels a natural connection with.
“In a way, I wish I was cool enough not to be good at panto,” he laughs, “ but fortunately my natural instinct is towards it I’m conscious that my energy and my attack just really suits panto!”
Richard along with pantomime Dame Lee Mengo and leading lady Elin Llywd have all made a return appearance to this years Hiss and Boo presentation at The Riverfront.
Richard has previously performed alongside Lee in several Riverfront panto's in roles which have included a villain and an ugly sister. This year he plays Dame Derriere’s son ‘Potty’ Pascal. Richard couldn’t happier as he reveals it’s all purely for laughs. “I’ve got two daughters so I run a lot of gags by my seven-year-old and if it passes her test I guess it’ll work for the rest of the audience,” he says.
“I’m normally playing against Lee as a baddie but this year he’s my mum, it means I get to do a lot of the comedy with him. As a comical you’re in a lot of the routines whereas normally as a bad you get to come on at the start, growl a bit, Return halfway through to remind the audience who you are, then come back at the end for the fight. This time I’m on a lot more!”
Does Richard have any comedy influences when preparing for panto roles? “I go back to Les Dawson and Morecambe and Wise,” he says, “in this one I'm lucky enough to be doing an old music-hall routine that Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth did. It’s really gentle and important to show the younger audience that you don’t need lights, smoke and lasers all the time. Its just two blokes, two planks and a ladder and that lasts for 7 minutes, it holds the attention.”
The decorator’s sketch which Richard performs alongside Michael Onslow is a master class of impeccable comic timing, as is the 12 Days of Christmas routine which he performs once again this year alongside Lee Mengo but with a French theme to tie-in with the story.
“It’s a really good mix of cast this year,” Richard says of the show, “everybody knows their job. The sincerity that Rob Vernon (The Beast), Elin Llywd (Beauty), Lizzie Franks and Nerine Skinner (Baguette and Croissant) bring to it allow the rest of us to play. Without that narrative through line there’s nothing but gags, but they are the ones who hold it together. There’s lots of big numbers this time and it very slick! There’s never a dead moment on stage.”
Beauty and The Beast is not the only thing keeping Richard busy this festive season as he is also preparing to move house. “I’ve got a lot of painting and decorating to look forward to,” he says,” Hopefully I can borrow the planks from The Decorators sketch at the end of the run!” he laughs.
Beauty and The Beast Continues at The Riverfront until January 5. For full information on ticket prices visit https://nccsec.newport.gov.uk/tickets/ or call box office on (01633) 656757