Jo sadly died on April 18th 2023
Jo Hawes has been the leading Children’s Casting Director and Administrator for nearly three decades – her first show being Cameron Mackintosh’s OLIVER! at the London Palladium in 1995.
She did not come from a theatrical background but decided at 7 years old that she was going to work backstage in professional entertainment. She often mused about how she knew at that age what “backstage” meant. However this decision was made after being completely mesmerised by Eric Porter’s portrayal of Soames in The Forsyte Saga and she never wavered despite serious discouragement from her Convent school.
She has enjoyed a number of different occupations within the business over the years and always loved her work describing it as, not a job, but a way of life.
At 15 she started dressing at the Theatre Royal Windsor and by 18 she was the youngest student on the Stage Management Course at LAMDA. She went back to work at Windsor having trained and later joined the team at ANNIE then playing at the Victoria Palace in London. Three other very important productions followed – ON YOUR TOES, LA CAGES AUX FOLLES and at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. This was a particularly special time since whilst on PIRATES she met and married Tim Hawes, the 1st trumpet – they were happily married for nearly 38 years.
Jo and Tim went on to have 4 children. Their oldest daughter, Rebecca, died in 2007 but Tom, Matt and Charlotte have all followed their parents into the industry. Jo was extremely proud of them all.
Between 1995 and 2023 Jo cast the children for many iconic productions including LES MISERABLES, MARY POPPINS, MISS SAIGON, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE, THE DRIFTERS GIRL, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, recently NEWSIES and over the years more than 100 others. She felt that there was nothing like the feeling when she was contacted about a new show.
In 2014 she wrote CHILDREN IN THEATRE – a book which helps children and their parents navigate their way through the wonderful world of live theatre. She often said that handing a book to a publisher was a bit like giving birth!
In 2020 Jo was thrilled and honoured to be awarded the Annual Special Recognition award by The Society of London Theatre. This was a particular highlight, very unexpected and much appreciated. Jo thought that it was actually awarded for her longevity in our industry since by then she had been working in theatre for 46 years! At the ceremony she was awarded her Olivier by Jonathan Sayer (founder member of Mischief Theatre Company) who she had cast as a child in Les Miserables.