This week on Throwback Thursday we speak to Hannah Lawson who is preparing to appear in Hairspray at the London Coliseum.
1) What was your first ever show that you did as a kid, and what was it that got you into the theatre world?
My first ever show was ‘Annie’ haha a typical childhood dream of mine was to play Annie and I played this role for a stage experience project in Manchester. It was honestly the turning point for me knowing that this is wanted to do as a career. I loved every minute of it and I met so many older performers in it who were currently training at Pendleton college (where I ended up going after high school) and preparing to audition for drama schools in London.
2) Things have changed a lot for everyone in the industry. Tell us how you got involved with ‘Spotlight on the future’. Was there an audition process for it, and if so how was it different from your ‘usual’ auditions’ ?
It’s been a crazy old time isn’t it? I’ve managed to stay fairly positive and feel so grateful for having an amazing producer Adam Spiegel for Hairspray. As we are now confirmed to be back next April at the Coliseum. I got involved with ‘Spotlight on the future’ because my amazing and talented friend Louis Rayneau set this project up over lockdown. He invited a few performers in the industry to join up with a graduate he had auditioned through a self-tape series. He has always encouraged me and given me so many opportunities so I jumped at the chance of being able to showcase a new graduate and bonus to perform again! It was honestly such a treat and I got to meet some lovely and talented people a few weeks ago when we filmed for the live broadcast of ‘Spotlight on the future’. This will be streamed online on the 6-9th of November I believe!
3) How have the rehearsals been during a pandemic?
Rehearsals were up to us. So I took time out of my work schedule to rehearse my song/duet that I performed for Spotlight. It is all about managing my time and not losing that spark for Musical Theatre, as I know it’s such a difficult time. People are wanting to make money and a 9-5 job can leave you exhausted by the end of the day with no enthusiasm to practise but I made sure I would take an hour out of my day off to get back into practising and realising how much I miss and love singing/ performing! I will cherish every moment of being back on stage when we finally get there.
4) What is your process each night when you get into character for a show?
In a show to get into character, I try to leave Hannah and her insecurities at the stage door when I enter. I can’t let little doubts in my head ruin my character. On Les Mis, I tried to get into the zone by warming up thoroughly before our warm-up to ensure I was focused. So sirens and stretching the body out to release any tension I was holding. For character prep, I would always research prior, and with Les Mis we had a week with the resident Sam in which we would prep homework to bring in on the background of each character and each event that happened in the show. It was important we displayed the right emotion, body language and mentality of that specific character. In Les Mis there are many roles we each took on during the show so there was a lot of homework. But in the end, it allowed us to show a true representation to the audience of the time.
5) Tell us about one of your best/funniest memories on stage?
My funniest/best memory on stage was when I got thrown on for Gavroche just before our evening show. It was a whirlwind but an amazing one. I had luckily had a 2nd cover run for it a couple of weeks before so was prepared. Dressing as a boy was hilarious and I think many of the cast tried to keep a straight face when this tall boy leapt on to the stage. I had the best time, the singing of the Gavroche fit so perfectly in my range which was a relief and running around that barricade with such cheeky attitude and boisterous physicality was brilliant!
6) You’re such an inspiration for aspiring performers. Tell us about your food and fitness blog.
Aw thank you soo much, that’s so kind of you! So I set up my food and fitness blog over lockdown because I started to create new and delicious recipes that I wanted to share with everyone. I thought creating a separate page would be easier. Soon after setting it up I wanted to be honest about my journey with my eating disorder, it had been a tough and long process in recovery and I can finally say I am at a stage I have never got to before and feel so proud. I suffered in all 12 years of ups and downs, relapsing in drama school and always maintaining a certain weight. I never had fully recovered or still felt happy in my own skin, it’s not until now that I realise how much damage I had done to my body, I had ruined relationships with friends and family through this and had isolated myself constantly. For any aspiring performers who may come face to face with struggles mentally and physically during their training or performing, it is completely normal, don’t feel afraid to open up and ask for help. That was the best thing I did, talking to people and getting everything off my chest literally changed my life and path for the future. I am now able to speak out and hopefully inspire others that recovery is worth it and that they are not alone in this. If you give my page a follow @hanalicious.food you can see I now have a healthy balance with food&exercise and I don’t restrict myself of anything. I am now training to be a PT and have just signed with a protein brand which I’m so excited about. It’s opened more doors for me and I feel like a weight has been lifted when I speak about my journey now.
7) What three things can we always find in your dressing room? I.e Lucky charms…things that help you on stage…blue m&ms..
Oooooh, that’s a tricky one I always have many things haha!
Anything PINK. I’m obsessed so it could be a pink sign with Hannah on or some form of pink fairy lights! Always brightens up my dressing room in many aspects haha
A bowl of black Jakemans. If you know you know haha! These were literally everyone’s saviours in Les Mis. They have a way of clearing your throat, plus I love the taste, they would always make me feel 100% better before performing if I was feeling a little off vocally! I know that I shouldn’t always rely on them but they’re brilliant.
2 Positive quotes. So my mum always sends me good luck gifts before opening a show and so they usually come in forms of plaques that have cute quotes on to give me all the positive vibes such as ‘We are all of us stars. And we deserve to twinkle’, Marilyn Monroe.
8) What is your favourite Cast Album to listen to right now?
My fave cast album right now is probably ‘Meangirls’ I switch week by week but I honestly think this is such a sassy show. The vocals from each of the leading girls is fantastic, absolute powerhouses! Also if you love the film then you can relate to all the lyrics and funny moments!
9) If your life were a musical what would it be called, and why?
‘Think Pink’ because as you know I adore the colour pink, pretty much everything in my life is fairly pink and it isn’t just a colour it’s an attitude. I’d have a song in it called ‘always look on the pink side of things’ haha because I know that wherever there is pink things will be better. It will literally be another level of legally blonde! Hahaha
10) What advice would you give to all the new graduates – both 2020 and upcoming 2021 grads?
The advice I would give is to stay positive, work hard and make it happen. I know that the whole pandemic has put a holt to our wonderful industry BUT many casting directors and creatives out there are always looking out for bright, new talent no matter what. I have seen so many incredible new graduates already land themselves opportunities, which is fantastic because I tell you as soon as we are up and running properly again they will have their time to shine. Just stick to it, you haven’t trained for 3 years for nothing, absolutely NOT, you are more than viable and just keep practising, staying motivated. There are so many platforms online to keep you busy and feed your passion for the industry. We will come back better than ever I truly believe it!