A Tribute to Jayne 

Jayne Marie Hewson 1966-2023

Last week members and ex-members of The Petuaria Players joined with so many friends, colleagues and family to say goodbye to Jayne Hewson at a celebration of her life.  Loved by so many she left us all far too early.  

Our group was such a significant part of her life that we cannot do justice to it here – there must be a thousand stories to tell.  She’d watched from the audience as a teenager with her mum and friends, and then joined in 1986 as a young 19 year old.   

And that was it.  She was hooked.   And now we find ourselves – prematurely, painfully – having to look back on her 37 years with us. During that time she was directly involved in an amazing total of 94 plays either performing onstage or working backstage and later, as Producer and Director.   Jayne had a massive presence in our group and had a real strength in creating characters, especially those wonderful comic roles that we and our audiences will always cherish.  

Always present at rehearsals, even when she was not in a production, Jayne never missed an opportunity to be there.  The drama group without doubt was a very important part of her life, an area she was never prepared to give up, a constant – a source of fun, friendship, artistic challenge and, at times, an escape from the hardships of life. 

Jayne’s laughter is something everyone can relate to.  And she loved making people laugh and in any social occasion she would be the one to resurrect the funny stories.  Our after-play parties were always an excuse for Jayne to tease and embarrass, have a laugh and  never failed, for example, to bring up the hilarious subject of ‘the basket’.   But that story remains ours…

Talking to our longest serving members, an amusing common theme emerged in their memories – most of her early acting roles seemed to involve her being onstage in various stages of undress!  If they needed to cast a young woman in skimpy underwear,  wrapped (seemingly) only in a towel – then Jayne was the brave go-to girl for those days when farce demanded it. 

But this tendency for revealing performances was resurrected in her ultimate onstage bare-a-bit-more performance in one of our most successful plays: Calendar Girls in 2014 along with our other equally brave female members.

She played Annie and posed for February – the one serving tea from the hatch – and at final rehearsals – to misuse a line from the play – we realised “we were gonna need bigger tea pots!”

Calendar Girls 2014

Us male actors were locked away in the boiler room out of sight except for Adam playing the photographer and we were convinced he saw a lot more than he was supposed to. When we asked him, Adam, being a gentleman, would only give us an enigmatic smile and a wink. 

But stripping off for Calendar Girls was just a pre-cursor for the ultimate undress in 2017 when artist Spencer Tunick somehow convinced 3200 people to wander about the streets of Hull stark naked – albeit painted completely blue.  Jayne, Nic and Gill (and Adam – though he was elsewhere in the crowd) are the only members that have staggered though the streets of Hull naked-  as far as we’re aware anyway…..

Not the Smurfs but ‘Sea of Hull’

Jayne rated Calendar Girls among her favourites and she often quoted Stepping Out as a favourite too – 6 months of tap dancing – the cast having to learn how to dance correctly – and then – start rehearsals and learn how to dance badly as Jayne herself put it. 

Her acting, accents and character-creating abilities produced some memorable roles – the dippy but delightful blonde Linda in Ladies Day and Ladies Down Under, rough, tough Kirstie in Double Top, Olive in the female version of The Odd Couple playing the role made famous by one of her favourites, Walter Mathau, or the role of Anne, going from teenager to middle-age in the moving Generations Apart.  And another of her personal favourites – Jean in Kick in The Baubles – one of our most successful and enjoyable plays – made so by the guidance and direction of our friend Gareth Tudor Price. 

And of course she turned her stage experience skills to producing and directing.  Her first production was Neil Simon’s California Suite back in 2010 with Richard helping.  Then, after two more as co-producer, in 2015 went completely solo for five wonderfully directed plays.   It should have been six – our most recent production The Final Test late last year should have been hers – but she became unwell at the start and was forced to drop out. 

What made Jayne a great Director, apart from her stage skills, was something everyone who knew her will recognise.  Her care and empathy with people, her counselling, her motivational skills.  She gave actors confidence, cast them and pushed them outside of their comfort zones, realised their potential.   Nobody left a rehearsal or a play of hers without a smile on their face or tears at her warm and emotional feedback reports. 

Everyone knew Jayne as a bubbly, friendly, warm and loving person who touched the hearts of so many people. They would recognise the same sentiments we received;   “her ability to send words of comfort when I needed them”;    “made me smile even on the bad days”;    “always supportive, caring and thoughtful”,    “came to me in my time of need”.  

But we all had such fun and laughter and tears in her company, it was no coincidence that she was our Social Secretary arranging meals, theatre trips, parties and cycle rides.  

And we must mention her amazing broad knowledge and memory skills!  To our ongoing dismay Jayne won most of our weekly lockdown Zoom quizzes.  Her excellent memory for long gone dates, events, faces….. your mistakes…  could be your downfall. 

The realisation that this truly beautiful person will never perform with us again is hard to bear and her loss has left the group and her many friends in shock and we send our love once again to her family.  Yet she leaves a treasure of so many good memories and smiles that will not diminish and give us all comfort for the future.


To recipients of the email: a more reader friendly version including the photo gallery can be viewed online by clicking on the title at the top of this post.

5 thoughts on “A Tribute to Jayne ”

  1. So very sorry to hear of Jayne’s passing

    Since a few of us travelled north to see your It Runs in the Family, I’ve kept in touch but not had an opportunity to come back

    Jayne made us so welcome on the occasion, seeing that we were looked after and even invited us to after show drinks.

    You’ve lost an asset for sure

    Our thoughts are with you all

    Ritchard- Lane End Players


  2. Good Morning. Thank you for sharing this with me, Cherished memories of a lovely lady. I would like to send a bouquet of flowers to stand in the foyer in memory of Janye, for the next play for which I would love to attend. However it is my 60 th Birthday that weekend, I think the family may be planning something so I had better be there! Do you have an address to which the flowers should be sent? Many Thanks David Clarke


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