As a long-standing and award-winning onstage performer with the Sainsbury Singers, Catherine Hannan makes her directorial debut in our forthcoming production, Made in Dagenham. We sat down with her to discuss bringing the show to life.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I joined the society in 2001 for Half a Sixpence. I’ve always had a passion for musical theatre and was performing in dance shows from a young age, and I just wanted to be back on stage doing all the shows I love. There’s no better feeling than being on that stage, singing, dancing, and acting your heart out surrounded by wonderful people.
Can you tell us about Made in Dagenham and what made you want to direct the show?
I had been interested and thinking about directing within the society for a while, so when I was approached about it, I jumped at the chance. I knew the basis of the story, but it was only once I started listening to the music that I fell in love with the show. I was particularly drawn to the strong message of female friendship, love and doing the right thing. I love that it shows how far women’s rights have come since the 60’s – thankfully sexism and equality within the workplace, and home, has moved on significantly. I also love the 60’s with the big hair and fabulous boots!
How have you found moving from performer to director?
It’s like moving to the dark side! In all seriousness, it’s been an amazing experience but way more hours than I had expected. I mean, I knew it was going to be time-consuming, but the show becomes your obsession. You live, breathe, dream and lose sleep over it. The cast have been so supportive and with each rehearsal you learn something new! It can be very stressful, and quite a lonely place at times, but I have the most amazing support from Matt [Smith – Director, Sweeney Todd] and Wendy [Carne – President of the society and Director, Chess], so it’s good to know it’s all a completely normal part of the process.
What’s your favourite part of the show?
I absolutely love the big chorus numbers but The Letter that Eddie sings is just such a great number.
What can audiences expect from the production?
I hope they all leave the show with the most wonderful feel-good factor and feel they’ve been included in something quite special. We have a really strong cast with lots of great characters to make you laugh, cry, reflect – and possibly cringe at some of the language! I’ve particularly concentrated on the relationship between Rita and Eddie and how their marriage and family have been affected by the strikes – I’ll say no more but it’s truly heart-warming.