AN ACTOR is looking forward to performing in front of a hometown audience in panto this year – including one very special person.
Pantomime veteran James Lusted, of Colwyn Bay, likes nothing more than treading the boards here in North Wales.
And this year will be extra special as his daughter Olivia Nevaeh, who is almost four, is at the age now where she can enjoy the show.
James, who is playing Bob in Venue Cymru’s Beauty and the Beast this festive season, said: “It makes a huge difference to me to do a panto here in Llandudno.
“I get to be home for the four to five week run over Christmas. I get to be at home with my wife and my three-year-old. Just to have that is quite significant, especially when she is so young so I can see her getting excited about Christmas.
“And they (wife Chloe and Olivia) can be part of the panto family, of Pantoland as I’ve always called it. I tell Olivia I’m going off to Pantoland, and I’m in Pantoland now, and I’m in my element.”
He added: “Olivia is only three years old, and in her first year she didn’t really see me in panto. Last year she saw me, and kind of got it but kind of didn’t.
“But this year she is starting to understand, she’s verging on four now, and she knows that daddy’s going to be dressing up and on the stage. Whether she knows what the story’s about I’m not so sure, but she’s just excited to see daddy on the stage.”
James, who is also a pastor and local councillor, added that it was the perfect time to put on a panto.
He said: “It’s going to be a fantastic run. It’s a real strong cast, it’s a diverse cast, and it’s an honour to be working with them. It’s phenomenal to be part of this, and a real privilege.”
James has worked as an actor and presenter for 12 years, including presenting Songs of Praise for the BBC.
He has also featured in number of documentaries.
A veteran of panto, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the Wizard of Oz, this role is a bit of a departure for James.
He added: “I’m playing Barry’s sidekick Bob, and it’s a bit of a different character for me. I wouldn’t say I’m a villain, but I try and support Barry although I’m not too sure about him.
“It’s a comedy character as well, which I quite like and can have a bit of fun with. There are a few famous comedy sketches in the script that people can relate too.
“It’s different because I’m more used to playing serious characters, last year I played Jasmine’s father, it was a bit more loving and caring, whereas this is a bit of fun.”
CBeebies star Rebecca Keatley leads the cast of Beauty and the Beast as Belle and will be joined by James and other venue favourites John Evans and Jason Marc Williams.
Additional cast includes Jenna Brandon, Mark Beauchamp, Neil Moors, Peter Lawrence, Erin Bell, Euan Libaudiere and George Lynham.
It promises to be “an evening full of sparkle, slosh and laughs galore”.