It’s a piece of casting that would delight the vain Gaston.

Model, musician and actor, Afnan Iftikhar, is revelling in his role as baddie Gaviscon in Beauty and the Beast at The Customs House, South Shields.

And his take on the character is very much inspired by Disney’s animated villain.

Afnan, 30, from Newcastle, said:
 
 “In his mind, Gaviscon is the ultimate hero, the ultimate man’s man – all muscle, all brawn, all everything you could ever wish for if you were a member of the opposite sex!

“But he’s very much taken with one particular lady – and it’s not Dame Bella!

“I much prefer playing more villainous parts. I have played the prince many times, but you can have a lot more fun as a baddie! I’m the character that audiences love to hate!”

Afnan has previously appeared in Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland at The Customs House, but he took a break from acting to concentrate on his music and modelling career.

He reached the finals of ITV’s Superstar in 2012, as Andrew Lloyd Webber searched for a new lead for Jesus Christ Superstar.

The lure of the stage called him back to The Customs House last year, when he appeared in a production of Gyles Brandreth’s musical Zipp!

He said: 
 
“I’m really excited to be back.When you take a bit of time off from stage work and come back to it, you really appreciate it;The Customs House is my favourite theatre in the whole world, and the panto audiences are simply the best!”

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, plays Dame Bella, along with David John Hopper, who plays Arbuthnot.

Beauty  is played by Annie Guy, Steven Lee Hamilton is The Prince/Beast, Gareth Hunter is Beauty’s father, the Duke de Pomefrite, Georgia Nicholson is playing the housekeeper, Hortensia, Eleanor Changanis is The Enchantress and Charlie Raine is Cutlet.

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

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