Jo decided at 7 years old that she was going to work 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. Since he was a well-known Shakespearean actor she is delighted, all these years later, to be working for the Royal Shakespeare Company on Matilda – the Musical.

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 Annie in the West End. As a stage manager she worked on (amongst other productions) three further musicals – La Cage Aux Folles, The Pirates of Penzanze and On Your Toes.

Since becoming a Children’s Casting Director and Administrator (in charge of licencing) 23 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, Mary Poppins, Matilda the Musical, The Ferryman, The Braille Legacy, The Whisper House and the tour of Miss Saigon.

In 2010 Jo began giving Masterclasses in “The Art of Auditioning”. She had auditioned many children but felt that many of them do not give their best because they have never been taught the technique of auditioning. She travels all over the country and has taught many hundreds of children. Her book Children In Theatre has proved to be a useful handbook for parents, children and industry professionals.  It is about to be reprinted.

Jo is married to professional musician Tim Hawes and they live in Berkshire with their children.