Jo decided at 7 years old that she was going to work backstage in professional entertainment, although she had little idea of what that might mean at the time. This decision was made after being completely mesmerised by Eric Porter’s portrayal of Soames in The Forsyte Saga and she was thrilled years later to work with him!
She started her career at the age of 15 as a dresser at the Theatre Royal Windsor after pestering for a job for two years. After training as a Stage Manager at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, she returned to Windsor as a member of the stage management team. After 18 months she was offered a job on the musical Annie in the West End. As a stage manager she worked on three further musicals – La Cage Aux Folles, The Pirates of Penzanze and On Your Toes. In 1987, she was expecting her first child and retired from stage management.
Since becoming fully immersed in Children’s Casting and Administratration 26 years ago she has worked on many, many productions – mainly musicals in the West End and on tour – for all the leading theatrical producers. Current productions include Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre, The Ferryman, The Sound of Music UK Tour and the tour of Miss Saigon. She has recently cast three disabled boys for Tom Fletcher’s production of Christmasaurus at the Hammersmith Apollo and she cast a short film – The Bridge – which filmed in October.
In 2010 Jo began giving Masterclasses in “The Art of Auditioning”. She had auditioned many children but felt that they had not always given their best because they had never been taught the technique of auditioning. She travels all over the country and has also taught in Dubai and Hong Kong. In association with her lovely team of industry professionals Mark Hedges, Carrie Grant, Elizabeth Keates, Nyssa Addison, Freedom Flying and others Jo runs all sorts of exciting Performing Arts Courses in school holidays,
In 2012 she was commissoned by Oberon to write her book Children In Theatre which is a useful handbook for parents, children and industry professionals..
Jo is now organising regular training for chaperones and other industry professionals in how to cope with mental health problems in children. She is grateful for the support of The Society of West End Theatre. The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and Cameron Mackintosh Limited.
Jo is proud to have been married to professional musician Tim Hawes for nearly 35 years and they live in Berkshire with their children. Tom is Head of Automation for Cirque Du Soliel’s Kurios., Matt is going to be a director and Charlotte is training to be a stuntwoman.
Jo is thrilled and honoured to have been awarded an Olivier in Special Recognition of her Contribution to The Industry.