WELSH rugby legend and reality TV star Gareth Thomas has announced he will appear in panto in Wrexham later this year.
Wales’ most capped international player, who in 2009 became the first openly gay professional rugby union player, recently starred in Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother and is set to be the subject of a Hollywood film starring Mickey Rourke.
In December, however, Gareth will be doing something decidedly different – playing the Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin at Theatr Stiwt in Rhos.
Gareth has strong connections with the area having finished his exemplary rugby career at Crusaders RL in October last year.
But he’s looking forward to a new challenge.
He said: “I am never one to back away from a challenge and try something new, so
when I was offered this opportunity I thought it was too good to turn down.
“There is a great team behind the production who are all so enthusiastic about putting on a great show and I can’t wait to get back up to Wrexham at Christmas and have some fun.
“Having played rugby there for two years it will also be a good opportunity to catch up with old friends in the area.
“I have lots of friends and family from down south who have already said they will be coming along to watch and support me and I hope we can encourage as many people as possible to get behind it and come and see me in costume.”
Throughout his career Gareth won much admiration for his performances on the pitch.
In 2010 he received the gay, lesbian and bisexual charity Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award and was voted the most influential gay person in the UK.
No stranger to completing challenges, he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother this year, coming third in the competition.
He also recently cycled, rowed and ran his way around Great Britain to raise money for Sport Relief alongside other Welsh personalities, such as presenter Gethin Jones.
Lee Kelly, panto organiser, said: “We are very excited to be working with Gareth Thomas this year at Theatr Stiwt.
“This is the third year that the pantomime has been running at the venue.
“It has grown in popularity and success and the response from the audience has been overwhelming.”
Aladdin will run at Theatr Stiwt from December 11 to January 2. For tickets go to www.stiwt.co.uk.