Meet the Hayling actress on the cusp of hitting the big time

Never take any of this for granted.  Those are the wise words given to actress Charlotte Haines, who is on the cusp of hitting the big time.Â

Tuesday, 21st August 2018, 11:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st August 2018, 11:15 am

Poignantly they came from none other than the late Barry Chuckle, a star who had a huge influence on Charlotte when she worked closely with him and brother Paul in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Mayflower Theatre last year. 

Charlotte, from Hayling, has just been announced as the lead in Cinderella, opposite Lesley Joseph at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, in what is her first big London role. 

It would be easy to think that everything has fallen conveniently into place for the 26-year-old actress.

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She's appeared in commercials, plays, musicals, pantomimes and even on a Disney soundtrack.

But she's worked incredibly hard to get here '“ without the kind of step up that others in the world of theatre and drama have had. 

She says: '˜I was heartbroken to hear about Barry. At the time, I couldn't believe I was working with the Chuckle Brothers. I spent my childhood watching them. 

'˜I know a lot of nice things have been said about them, but they were genuinely the most kind-hearted people I've ever met. 

'One of their first gigs before they went on telly was a comedy act at Mill Rythe Holiday Park. They worked and lived on Hayling. Normally when I mention Hayling no one has any idea where it is! All Barry wanted to do was work and make people laugh. 

'We'd sit in the wings together and talk for ages. He and Paul would give me advice on my career. Despite all their success they said they had never taken it for granted. 

'They taught me to be strong, I learned a lot from them.'

Growing up, money was tight for Charlotte and her family, and there was no spare cash for dancing or singing classes. But that didn't stop her performing '“ even if it was just to her dad Terry, and her older sisters Sammi and Donna. She says: '˜From a very young age I knew I wanted to perform but my dad couldn't afford classes, he just didn't have the money. 

'˜But I was always singing and dancing around the house. I put on stupid shows for my dad and my sisters. They'd call it my funny five minutes.

'˜Me and my dad have always been best mates. And we both absolutely love Bugsy Malone. We'd dance around to the soundtrack.

'˜One day we saw an advert from Groundlings Theatre looking for actors for their production of Bugsy Malone at the Kings Theatre. My dad said, 'This is a sign, you have to go for it!"

'˜Even though I'd never done any dancing and I wasn't in a drama group I knew all the words. I was obsessed with the show. It was my very first audition and I was up against people who had been in the company for ages. I was so scared but I got the part of Bangles, the lead dancer.' 

There followed a number of school and Groundlings productions and then a Btech in musical theatre at South Downs College.

Charlotte says: '˜Performing is the only thing I can do. I wasn't the brightest kid. For me, performing was my escape, it was the only thing I was good at.'

After South Downs Charlotte auditioned for a number of drama schools.

She says: 'It was so scary. It was Guildford School of Acting (GSA) I wanted the most. Dad drove me to this one. I will never forget it. He was outside waiting and said he was more nervous than I was! 

'˜It was for a scholarship, I could not have afforded to go otherwise. I just had to get it, though my dad was close to remortgaging the house if I didn't. 

'We were in the car on the way back when my telephone rang. It was GSA calling to say I had a place. '˜My dad had to pull the car over because we were screaming and crying our hearts out. 

'˜It was my dream. We'll never forget that moment.'

At 21, in her final year at GSA, Charlotte secured a theatrical agent and has worked almost non-stop ever since. 

But Barry's words have stayed with her and she never takes her job for granted.

She adds: 'It's not the most stable industry so when you are in work you appreciate it more. I come from very humble beginnings.

'˜But if you want something and you envision it and work hard and be yourself you can do whatever you want. My dad's support has been amazing. He's my number one fan.' 

Terry confirms that: '˜I haven't missed a single show. I'm the proudest father you can imagine.'


What does the future hold for Charlotte? 

Charlotte Haines was signed up by pantomime producers Qdos when she left university and has worked with top names in shows across the country, including Craig Revel Horwood, Duncan James and the Chuckle Brothers. 

Charlotte has just finished a run as Nancy in the comedy Gaslightand is having a few weeks of rest and travelling before she begins rehearsals for her first big London pantomime, Cinderella, in The Churchill Theatre, Bromley. 

She will appear alongside Lesley Joseph, who is already a good friend. 

She loves panto but is determined to become a serious actress.

She says: 'I really enjoy musical theatre but my aim is to do some much more serious acting.

'˜I'd love a role in something like Broadchurch or Downton Abbey.

'˜I see this as the groundwork for that, the foundations.

'˜I've got to build up a show-reel of commercials.'

Charlotte credits the Guildford School of Acting for setting her on the right track. She says: '˜It was very challenging but you learn so much about who you are as a performer. They push you like crazy there.

'˜It's just like you see in the film Fame. We were like a big family.'