After being cast in the role of Gloria in Madagascar the Musical, Hannah Victoria visited places such as Ireland and Malaysia on the UK and International tour, and in the same year, she was a vocalist on the Black Magic: The Little Mix Show tour seeing her perform the group’s hits. During her time training at Edge Hill University in Musical Theatre, Hannah played Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act along with Celie in The Color Purple, and afterwards she booked her first professional role as Gerda in the UK Tour of Snow Queen. Hannah recently answered our questions about touring with Madagascar the Musical, being a vocalist on the Black Magic tour and performing in productions while training.
You played Gloria on the tour of Madagascar the Musical, how did you find this experience?
Madagascar the Musical has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to travel across the UK, Ireland, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia is something I will never forget. Gloria was received so well in every performance, the audience loved her big grey bump, head piece, purple glitter eyeshadow and her long pink lashes. Everything about Madagascar screams fun and laughter, it wasn’t just for children, everyone could come along, it was a family show. The whole tour flew by in a flash. I was able to work with amazing actors and crew members, we had so many good times, never a dull moment and I have definitely made friends for life.
What was it like getting into costume for the first time?
The first time I tried on the costume, all I could think about was the dance number Move It, I knew that that was going to be one sweaty number. There were many layers to the costume so it got hot at times. The first time I tried the costume on, I was doing a photoshoot. It was hard to move in because it was such big costume. I remember knocking over water bottles, tripping over things and trying to fit through doors, but soon after I got the hang of it.
How was it taking the tour international?
It was a life-changing experience, touring the UK was amazing but having the opportunity to play Gloria in different countries was beyond my wildest expectation. We also had the chance to be a tourist on our off days, so we made the most of every second. When you go to a different country you never really know how the audience will receive the show, some places had screens for subtitles. So, with some minor changes to the show, they absolutely loved it. We always got standing ovations throughout and at the end, we could see people dancing in the chairs to the songs and laughing at the jokes. I was so grateful to bring laughter and joy to different countries and cultures. I got the chance to be a part of so many interviews, talking about the show, what to expect and meeting new people. After every show we were able to meet the audience members, take pictures and have a Q&A session with them. The cast and crew were interviewed for radio stations, TV and websites.
What was it like performing on your final Madagascar date?
Our final show was in Malaysia, it was very emotional, knowing that this would have been the last time I got to play Gloria and the last time I would have shared the stage with such an amazing cast and crew. On the last day, one of the cast members prepared a spoken word to reminisce about the past six months we had spent together, sharing the highs, the lows, the funny times and the stressful times. I was so lucky to be a part of such an incredible company. There were lots of tears but we knew that it wouldn’t be the last time we would all be together.
How different did you find this tour to your previous work?
Madagascar was a step up professionally, the costumes, set, props and the organisation as a whole. Touring is always different with each new job, you get to meet all sorts of people, the cast can be different sizes. For my first two jobs, I was in a very small company with four people max. but Madagascar was much bigger and I went on tour for a longer period of time. Sometimes it was great, other times it was difficult, especially when I was in China and Hong Kong because I wasn’t able to see my family for a month and being able to speak to them was a challenge because of the time difference.
Can you tell us about being a vocalist for Black Magic: The Little Mix Show?
I really enjoyed the Black Magic tour, the atmosphere from the crowd was the best part for me, it was always a full house. The group always used to put the mics towards the audience and you would just hear a sea of voices. They knew every word to every song, it was just amazing to see and hear it all. It felt like I was in concert! Every night we would have different competitions, many people would take part and be so excited to win.
How was it learning and performing the Little Mix songs?
Wow, that was intense as we only had a few days to rehearse and put the show together. Learning choreography and songs knowing that the audience will know them word for word put me under a lot of pressure, but singing it with them made it all worthwhile! Everything was high energy and fast-paced. The harmonies were so tight and clear, we had to always make sure we blended together. I did a lot of rapping in some of the songs, so I had to keep on top of those tongue and lip exercises.
What was Gerda like to play in Snow Queen?
Playing Gerda was demanding because I had to remember what it was like to be a child again. In rehearsals, we spent a lot of time brainstorming and reminiscing about our own childhood. The activities helped to bring us back to the age we had to play; embodying how children laughed, cried, played and threw tantrums. The show spoke about friendship, love and sensitive topics, which helped children understand everyday walks of life. I was Gerda throughout the show, however the other two cast members in the show would multi-role. I had to keep Gerda interesting and alive as the story went on.
You performed at schools on the tour, what were these shows like to do?
Performing at schools meant a lot of early mornings, as there were only four of us, we all did the get ins and get outs. We would do two shows for different classes. In schools we were without lights and specials effects, so it was all about creating the atmosphere, using your imagination and storytelling. The shows were quite short so we had to always keep them captivated throughout.
While training, you performed as Deloris in Sister Act, what was she like to portray?
Deloris Van Cartier was such an amazing role to play. I had to prepare for this role through character studying. I had embraced her as a person, everything about Deloris was over the top, big and fun. She oozes sass and just becomes a star which is shown through some of her songs like Fabulous, Baby!. She was confident and bold and it showed through her big hair and colourful clothing. I realised that, on the other hand, she could be seen as a little bit selfish but as soon as she entered the convent, wore the habit and met the Sisters, she went on a journey where she gained a motherly touch. For me, I felt so excited because we are similar in some aspects and then complete opposites. Going through the costume with the costume designer allowed me to express how I also would like her to be seen and portrayed. The big blue fur coat and the red knee high boots immediately helped me get into character.
Also while training, you played Celie in The Color Purple, can you tell us about this?
Celie was a challenge to play because in the show you see her go through so many traumatic events. So, embodying her was an emotional journey and made me take a step back. I also did a lot of character development, I concentrated on the song she sang, I understood so much about Celie, her thoughts and her mind through the songs.
What was it like doing your Musical Theatre training at Edge Hill University?
I was the first year to do Musical Theatre at Edge Hill University so it was new to all of us. Edge Hill contributed to my career. Before uni, I went to a performing arts college in Birmingham, I thought it was going to be very similar; constantly dancing, acting lessons and non-stop shows. However, EHU was the opposite. When studying MT there, it wasn’t just about learning new songs and putting together my professional portfolio, it was about understanding the history of the musicals, practitioners and being able to put those elements into my written and practical work. I was able to work alongside people who have been in the industry for years and it helped me understand what it would be like when I left uni. Third year really opened my eyes to know how I want to work, what I wanted to be in and how I was going to achieve it. I learnt a lot of career advice and life lessons from uni, which I continue to use and put into practice daily.
Where does your love of performing come from?
Well, from a very young age I have always been a little drama queen, I loved the stage and acting like a fool. My family is very musical so I learnt a few things from them. So, for as long as I can remember, it’s always been in my body, I was one of those children who never sat still, I was always so active from going to gymnastics to trampolining. I remember when I was young, me and my sister would make home videos of ourselves and pretend we were doing TV competition adverts and make our own shows.
Growing up in church, I did a lot of singing at events and still do. My church would always put on Christmas and Easter plays, I would be the first name on the sign-up sheet. Alongside that, I am a part of a family oriented singing group, where we also sing at different churches and events. I properly started to love being part of shows when I was in secondary school. I did drama for one of my GSCEs and also joined drama club, we would put on performances and feature songs and scenes from musicals.
I took a chance in secondary school and instead of going to Sixth Form, decided to audition for Birmingham Orminston Academy and from then, that’s when I saw it wasn’t a hobby, this is my career.
What are your plans for the next few months?
Well, I recently just finished Madagascar the Musical, so right now, it’s back to auditions. As we all know, being a performer can be tough at times, so you just have to continue preparing for the new auditions and get yourself out there. So with the help of my trusty agent, hopefully soon I will land another amazing job and be #bookedandblessed for 2020. Let’s see what this year will bring!
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