Andy Howells meets Emma Goodwin, the actress behind the feline fur of Tommy the Cat in Newport Riverfront’s pantomime Dick Whittington.

It would be safe to assume that running a dance school and leading a Cheerleader team regularly for the Dragon’s matches would be enough to keep anybody’s diary full, not so for Newport actress Emma Goodwin who is currently treading the boards in Newport Riverfront’s Dick Whittington.

In recent years, Emma has been responsible for choreography in the Riverfront panto, but during this festive season she has quite a different role. “I'm taking a break from the choreography and taking on a bigger role in the form of Tommy the Cat.” she says, “Being a full part of the cast which will be really fun as well as a challenge!”

Been involved with local dance schools since childhood has enabled Emma to gain experience in many local pantomime productions as well as appearances at Her Majesty’s Theatre and The London Palladium. Emma has also gained a full scholarship at the Urdang Academy of performing arts in London’s Covent Garden.

Emma made her debut Riverfront panto performance back in 2009 in Peter Pan. “The year before I was chaperoning the children in panto and the director said to me “Whoa what are you doing there - why are you not in it?” The following year they rang me up and said they would love me to be in it. I assisted the choreographer and had quite a few chorus roles, everything from pirates to lost Indians it really good fun.”

As each pantomime has come around, so has a new challenge for Emma including playing Eliza in Robin Hood two years ago and been responsible for choreography in Beauty and The Beast last year.

Emma has also been busy throughout the year running her own dance school which consists of 170 students and more recently organising a cheerleader team for Newport Dragons matches on the build up to Christmas. “I quite like teaching,” she says, “the school has opened up so many opportunities for me as a performer. I’d like to do more professional productions with the children. All of the tutors who work in the school with me are all working actors or dancers so the children love the element of us all working in different things.”

Emma’s panto roles also serve as an inspiration for her young pupils, “The children in my school come along and watch it, and I get such lovely responses from everybody especially if I haven’t been in class for a bit. It’s nice for them to see someone they know in a big production so that they can aim for their goals and dreams as well.”

Dick Whittington which features Emma along with Richard Elis, Lee Mengo , Elin Llwyd, Nerine Skinner and Gareth Tempest continues at The Riverfront until January 4, 2015 Call 01633 656757 for ticket details.