by Hattie Hammans
Following this year's highly successful school production of 'Kiss Me, Kate', Hattie Hammans, a member of the cast, talks to the two lead roles and the director.
What was your favourite thing about your part as Fred? Did you like your character?
I love playing Fred, I think if he was a real person I would 100% go out drinking with him. Probably take him to the Balti… But, in all seriousness, I loved playing such a masculine role, he was so powerful. And with Fred, I could do funny, sad, heroic, sing and do hip thrusts without being judged.
What was your best moment, in rehearsal or on stage, of the production?
On stage, definitely. ‘Where is the life that late I led!’ And when I came back from surgery and saw how well everything was coming along in my absence.
And lastly, will you be auditioning next year?
Emma Read- leading lady (Lilli Vanessi). Emma has been in four PGS school musicals: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘Sweet Charity’, ‘The Producers’ and ‘Kiss Me, Kate’. She hopes to attend drama school next year after she has completed her final year at PGS.
I was so so happy! 'Kiss Me Kate' is one of my favourite musicals and having the chance to play Lilli Vanessi, who I’d wanted to play for ages, was just amazing. She’s like the biggest diva ever!
What did you find was the most challenging part of the play?
Probably trying to throw stools, plants and various other objects without injuring the orchestra, the actors or destroying the set. That was actually quite hard because, at one point, when I’m up on the balcony in Act One when I throw plant pots, seeds and a stool, I just wanted to hurl the stuff as far as I could, but obviously I couldn’t do that… I actually managed to break a light in ‘I Hate Men’ when I threw a stool from one side of the stage to the other... I get into it!
Will it be difficult to say goodbye to Mr McCrohon as a director?
Yes it will be very sad! He has been so inspiring to all of us! It will be a real loss to see him go. I have to say, I wish him the best of luck with the future, and I hope our paths will cross again.
Finally, any tips to anyone auditioning next year for the musical?
Go for it, be versatile and have fun!
Mr McCrohon- PGS’ well-loved Director-in-Residence for the past two and a half years.
The challenge with any big musical production is ensuring that it works as a whole piece. Bringing all the many elements involved together is at once the most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of the process. Everything has to feel seamless and contribute to the themes and momentum of the piece … which is what I hope we achieved!
What was the funnest part of the play to direct?
It is a gift of a show to direct and I had a great deal of fun contrasting the two ‘worlds’ that the play inhabits – the ‘real’ backstage one and the onstage ‘Shrew’ scenes. Bringing out the nuances of the brilliant script, music and lyrics with the pace and momentum they deserved was a joy with some great full-cast and ensemble sequences such as the opening, ‘Bianca’ and the finales to each act – and all those elements are encapsulated in the scenes between the principals. Lois and Bill’s sparky relationship was a real pleasure to work on with Pippa and Pete, the pacey and heightened Shakespearean scenes with Baptista and the suitors joining the primary principals contrast wonderfully with the backstage scenes with Cam, Bex, Rob and the crew (including our well-played new ‘love triangle’ between Paul (Declan), Hattie (Graihagh) and Billie (Jess)!) and the verve of the dancers and ensemble. The General’s sub-plot was delightful and ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’ with Rob and Rory saw me grinning (and crying with laughter!) through rehearsals whilst, at the very heart of it all, the scenes involving Emma and Lewis’ characters, Fred and Lilli, were so fulfilling as every part of the spectrum is covered – fast-paced comedy (verbal and – later – physical!), theatricality, glowing romance and moments of heart-breaking vulnerability. They – and every member of the cast – delivered every moment magnificently. Sorry … Long answer!!
I know this is a difficult question to answer, but who was your star performer of the production?
I can’t really choose an individual star performer as, quite genuinely, everyone delivered at such a remarkably high level. A production like this can only be as strong as its weakest link – and there was no weak link! Everyone – from the brilliant principals to the vibrant ensemble – gave it all they had and peaked at exactly the right time.
The final question we’ve been waiting for- what is your favorite musical?
This is another really difficult question for me as I have such a love for so many musicals and really am passionate about musical theatre as an art form. I only work on musicals that I love … and therefore have a great love for the ones I have worked on at PGS: the comedy of ‘The Producers’, the emotional depth of ‘Mack and Mabel’ and the mixture of both these elements within ‘Kiss Me, Kate’. But, if I was forced to name one overall favourite musical, I think it would have to be Sondheim’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ … breath-taking in its perfection.