London is a surprisingly small place sometimes. Whenever I am in the city, nine times out of ten I run into somebody I know. I don’t know what the odds are – I’m a writer, not a mathematician – but in a city that size and the amount of people walking around it, it surprises me how often it happen. For instance, in my first visit to Show Off Piano Bar (musical theatre piano evening in West End on Fridays) I found myself standing next to an old school friend at the bar who I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years. Some of you may know her: Hannah Levane.
Hannah Levane left our secondary school, Sydenham Girls, to attend the BRIT School of Performing Arts so she could follow her dream of becoming an actress. She had grown up in the world of theatre, taking dance and drama classes and regularly going along to West End shows, operas, ballets and plays: after once asking her mum if people got paid for doing this and finding out that yes, they did, she decided it was the path for her. She followed up her time at the BRIT School with training at the Arts Educational School, London and, from there, went into her first West End role covering Bess and Clara in Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre. Whilst at college, Levane had played the roles of Addaperle (The Wiz), Rizzo (Grease) and had been one of the 12-strong cast of The World Goes Round, as well as work-shopping Soho Cinders with composing duo Stiles and Drewe – a nice preview to her West End career.
During her time on Porgy and Bess, Levane dislocated her knee on stage, an injury which could have put an end to her first professional stage job and even her dancing career. Thanks to the care of Cavin Cornwall though, Levane was back onstage in just six weeks and she hasn’t stopped since.
Her other theatre credits include The Girl in Blues In The Night (New Wolsey Theatre) and Tiger Lily in Peter Pan (Tunbridge Wells Theatre). West End audiences have been lucky enough to also have seen her playing Keisha in Flashdance at the Shaftesbury Theatre and Teacher/Alternate Killer Queen in the ever-popular We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. She has also played Taylor on the national tour of High School Musical and performed at the 2011 Whatsonstage.com Awards.
Levane is now touring around the UK in the cast of Sister Act, playing the part of Michelle and understudying the lead role of Deloris. If anyone is going to the winter showcase of Giggin4Good at The Actors Church in Covent Garden on Sunday (5th February), she’ll be there performing, as she did at their previous showcase.
Levane has many dreams after her time in Sister Act ends: she wants to do straight theatre; she wants to originate a role in a new production; she wants to write her own script; she wants to release an album; she wants to work in television and I’m sure there are many more to come. I’m also sure she’ll achieve them all. Levane is as determined as she is talented and most importantly, she has a great outlook on life that is carrying her along the road of success. In a recent interview she was asked what she had learnt from working in the profession, to which she replied, “I learnt that there is always someone else, always someone thinner and prettier, always someone who can belt higher or dance better, but I also learnt to value myself. I learnt to believe I have something special to offer. And with each audition I try to convey that.”
Sometimes life in the world of theatre disappoints, as when the production of Moby Dick at the Landor (which Levane was involved with) was cancelled just one week before its first preview, but sometimes it brings you the things you want: on the whole, I’d say Hannah Levane’s relationship with theatre has been a very happy one so far, and one which will continue for a long, long time.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Content updated 1st May 2014