Steven Lee Hamilton has played both the hero and the villain in The Customs House pantomime for the last ten years.

Starring in this year’s hugely successful Beauty and the Beast at the South Shields based theatre, Steven is playing hero and villain at the same time as he takes on the role of the Prince/Beast.

Steven has previously appeared in Sleeping Beauty, Dick Whittington (twice), Aladdin, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Lambton Worm.

Steven’s 6ft 2inch frame makes him ideal to play the handsome blonde Prince, but he has previously shown his evil side as the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk.  In the role of the Beast, Steven stands 8 ft tall in his custom made sky high boots.

“It’s actually hard to tell who is the hero and who is the villain when it comes to the Prince and the Beast,” laughs Steven, who sympathises with the creature the Prince becomes after being cursed during by the evil enchantress.

He continued “The Beast has something of a split personality and the change of character halfway through is really interesting to play. The villain parts are meatier because you get more audience reaction from the kids – they know when to shout and boo and hiss!

“The gorgeous prince, who is seen as the good guy, has got no heart, he’s all for himself, but there is a heart inside the beast. He’s seen as the bad character, but I don’t think he’s nasty. The Prince is rotten and arrogant.

“As he learns the error of his ways, he changes – so in fact it’s really like three characters!”

Steven is thoroughly enjoying performing in the run-up to Christmas, saying: “Christmas week is so magical and everyone’s excited.

“You can see the parents are absolutely dying to finish work for the holidays; the kids are climbing the walls and everyone joins in with us to sing the Christmas medley.”

Beauty and the Beast runs until Saturday, January 5. Performance times vary and tickets are priced from £9.99.

Executive Director of The Customs House, Ray Spencer, who also directs and co-writes the panto with Graeme Thompson, returns as Dame Bella, along with David John Hopper, who plays Arbuthnot.

Beauty is played by Annie Guy, Afnan Iftikhar takes on the role of Gaviscon, Gareth Hunter is Beauty’s father, the Duke de Pomefrite, Georgia Nicholson is playing the housekeeper, Hortensia, and Eleanor Changanis is The Enchantress.

Get your tickets before the last petal falls! Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit www.customshouse.co.uk.