PREVIEW: There’s nothing like a dame for Chris


A PANTO dame is celebrating thirty years of fabulous frocks.

Chris Hayward, AKA Dame Rita, is the opulently dressed star of the last eight record-breaking pantos at Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Chris is renowned for his lavish outfits, wigs and multiple costume changes (14 in total for this year’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), all of which are designed by himself.

Aged 50, and from Newcastle, Chris starred as dame for the first time when he was just 19 years old, playing one of the ugly sisters in Cinderella at the Charter Theatre in Preston. Not a year has gone by since when he hasn’t donned a wig and heels for the festive season in theatres the length and breadth of the UK and even around the world.

This year, playing Dame Rita the Cook in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, marks three decades as mistress of the boards for Chris.

In his career he has played one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters no less than 14 times and had multiple turns as Widow Twankey, The Queen, Nurse, Cook, Baroness, Empress and many more iconic dame characters.

Chris said: “The last 30 years seems to have gone by in a flash – I simply love what I do. There’s nothing like the buzz of being on stage, and no more so than in panto – the highlight of the theatrical year. I’ve had so many amazing experiences and worked with so many incredible talents.

“There have been highs and lows of course – I was hospitalised with a splinter in my bottom after being dragged across the stage by a faulty prop during Cinderella at the New Theatre Hull in 2000, and my shoes even melted to the stage once after I put out a fire from a faulty Fairy Godmother pyro at Darlington Civic Theatre in 1989.”

For tickets, ring 08448 11 21 21.