Chris Ayres, an icon in the Anime industry, also well known for his work in theater, has died at 56.

David and Chris

Christopher Owen Ayres, Chris to his friends, born to Patricia, Pat, and Owen Ayres on May 16th, 1965 in Richmond, Virginia has died at 56. He passed away on October 18th, 2021. His passing was announced on Facebook by his mother, Pat, brother, Greg, and on Twitter by his partner Krystal Laporte.

Chris was well known in the Anime community for all the work he did acting and directing as well as for how friendly he was with all his fans at Anime conventions. He was also well known for his Mock Combat for Cosplay panels, at those conventions, where he used his knowledge of stage combat to teach cosplayers how to perform fight scenes, so they looked real but were safe for all participants. Others have highlighted his Anime accomplishments, but few have mentioned his theater accomplishments where he influenced many young people. His Wikipedia page didn’t even include his interest in theater until I updated it after his passing.

He began his professional acting career at the age of 6 when he and his family still lived in Virginia performing in a Lollipop Soft Drinks commercial. His family then moved to Houston, Texas where he continued performing when he could. Chris eventually attended Alief Elsik High School and continued acting. Alief Elsik would continue to factor into his theater career for much of his life. He graduated High School in 1983 and then went on to study Theatre Arts at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas under Barney Hammond and Dance under Hammond’s wife Utah Ground where he learned that he could dance, and would spark his love of Choreography. After leaving Lon Morris in 1985 he moved back to Houston and eventually studied theater at the University of Houston.

While studying at UofH he joined the Theater Under the Stars, T.U.T.S, performing in numerous productions including Hello Dolly in 1993 with Keira O’Keiff Cuilty and others. While there he joined the touring production of the Peter Pan musical revival starring Cathy Rigby. Chris went on to tour the country with this production between 1989 and 1991. Eventually the tour wound up on Broadway in 1990 and opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on December 13, 1990 and ran until January 20, 1991. The tour continued across the United States and returned to the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway on November 26, 1991 and ran there until January 5, 1992. In this final production J.K. Simmons preformed the role of Captain Hook. While not listed as a fight choreographer in this production Chris definitely got his start in fight choreography while he was there. He often told the story of how he observed Ms Rigby flying through the air with her dagger pointed at her face. He spoke to those in charge and commented on how unsafe that was.

(DALLAS YEARS – More info needed.) Chris spent some time in Dallas, Texas working in regional theater as well. He worked on some original work he and others had created.

Chris was also a huge Improv fan and in addition to attending may Improv performances he also performed in troupes as well as starting some of his own.

After his tour and his work in Dallas he worked with the Pasadena Little Theatre in the Houston area as well as working at Theater Under the Stars in Houston.

In the late 1990s Chris worked as assistant director or choreographer on a number of shows at the Country Playhouse with La Jean (Lujean) Kreisner including A Chorus Line, Sweet Charity and Big River. During the 1999-2000 season of shows at the Country Playhouse he directed, and likely choreographed, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and later that season directed The All Night Strut a review of 30’s and 40’s music. In 2001 Chris went on to direct and choreograph Hair and Man of La Mancha. In 2002 he directed and choreographed Cabaret starring his brother Greg. In 2003 Chris became the Artistic Director at Country Playhouse, a position he held until 2005. While he was Artistic Director he also directed and choreographed A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Forum. Chris was also the fight choreographer for their production of Romeo and Juliet. In the 2004-2005 season he went on to direct and choreograph The Pirates of Penzance and then to direct Noises Off. In 2005 he moved on from here to pursue other interests.

Chris was always a proponent of education and trying to inspire the next generation of people interested in theater. He would contract to direct and choreograph shows as well as teach fight choreography at local schools. Between 1994 and 2003 he directed the all choir musicals at Pearland High School. He also assisted local teachers such as Amy Ross and Lujean Kreisner, including at his Alma Mater, Alief Elsik High School. He continued doing this for many years even while pursuing his Anime career.  Chris continued directing local community theater productions but around 2005 his focus had moved to Anime. I have a feeling that I was in the last two theater productions he directed in his life back in 2005. Those included a revival of The Rocky  Show, which he’d previously directed, and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, both at Playhouse 90 in Rosenberg, Texas. The Rocky Horror Show included many actors who were, or would go on to be, famous anime actors including his brother Greg, Chris Patton, Monica Rial and Brittany Karbowski.

In 2006, due to his association with others in the Anime industry he joined Jan Scott-Frazier to create the first Voices For album to raise money for…Peace. The album was released on May 1, 2006. Chris recorded tracks for War Again, War Pigs, Fortunate Son and did backup vocals on War. He later went onto record with Voices For on their …Intolerance album adding his voice to Ich Bin Ein Auslander.

Chris was a huge fan of Doctor Who also. To the point that he cosplayed as almost every Doctor. One year, his partner, Krystal, even arranged a phone call with one of his favorite Doctors, Sylvester McCoy, while at DragonCon in 2012. Another friend of the couple had arranged a call with Colin Baker for him.

Chris was well known for his goatee, his leather jacket which generally, always covered a Hawaiian style shirt, and his big “sippy cup”. The cup, often referred to as the “Sippy Cup of Doom” was just the most gigantic re-fillable cup you could find at a local convenience store. It was always filled with generic coke or diet coke. At conventions his fans would attempt to either gift him with a larger cup they found or one up him by cosplaying as him with a much bigger cup. The largest cup Chris would use was 72 oz. A friend mentioned on Facebook… “Chris said that he had tried larger cups, but they hurt his wrist.” Ayres was a film fan in general and had a huge collection of DVDs. He’d often show up at the local Walmart on release day with a friend or two to get all the most recent releases. He was fond of Horror films, particularly those produced in Korea.

Chris is survived by his mother Patricia, Pat, and his brother Greg. His father, Owen, passed earlier this year. He also has a foster brother, Dale Peterson along with his wife Carolynn and their children Zach and Sam. He has two foster sisters, Kimberly Peterson and her children Savanna and Reese, and Linda. His extended family includes aunts and uncles Donald, Brenda and Bobby. He is also survived by his partner of 9 years, Krystal Laporte.

Ayres has had at least 678 Tributes on Facebook from people he’s worked with as well as fans of his. His influence is widespread. I imagine that there were twice as many people who commented on posts from others that had posted. Chris has influenced thousands of people.

His last post on Facebook was a completely unselfish one, not caring about his own health, only 5 days before his death, but of that of a friend who needed help finding work

“Asking for a person I know do any of my friends in DFW know of any video productions companies that are hiring at all or need a video editor

Love and Laughter Always

-Chris-“

He always ended every communication with his signature “Love and Laughter Always”. If you know how technology works this was not a big deal with an email signature but on Facebook he would have to actually take the time to type this every time. This is who he was, this is what his friends and colleagues remember him for.

Love and Laughter Always Chris.

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