Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nothing like a Dame as Chris Reaches Landmark

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nothing like a Dame as Chris Reaches Landmark

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Robson Reporter

T'S a double celebration for Chris Hayward - oh yes it is!

INot only did he turn 50 this year but it is also 30 years since he first tread the boards as a pantomime dame.

Chris is part of the team responsible for this year's festive show at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, the eighth year he has performed as Dame Rita at the venue.

This year's show is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Chris, born and bred in Newcastle, brings a mix of glamour and comedy to the proceedings.

It's just the latest in a series of successful collaborations with regulars Clive Webb and Danny (Accident!) Adams.

This year's show sees Chris making 12 costume changes, with the stunning number in the grand finale one that regular fans especially look forward to.

His make-up box was handed down by the legendary Danny la Rue for whom Chris once worked as a dancer and he fastidiously applies a small amount of black eyeliner from Danny's collection as we talk.

"I never had any intention of becoming a dame at the start of my career. It just happened," Chris said.

"I was the understudy for one of the Ugly Sisters and that's how it all started.

"I have done 30 pantos, eight of them here at the Theatre Royal, and although the characters have changed it's always Rita.

"Rita is a camp dame but a clean dame. John Inman was a great friend and he worked in the same way."

The Journal caught up with Chris before his matinee show where he thrilled thousands of children and grown-ups with his lavish costumes.

His personal routine involves a precise way of getting ready for the performance.

"It takes 35 minutes to get ready for the opening," he said.

"My eyeliner and blusher is always on the right, my powder is always on the left, and there is a mirror in the centre.

"I put my make-up on and that's when I change, I look in the mirror, smile to myself, and I change in some way.

"When I worked with Danny la Rue he used to change as well. The energy just comes and you're a different person for the duration of the show. …

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