Bits 'n Pieces: Teen actor embraces 'fancy' role

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator

Published:

 
photoHannah Wilson Skyview High School sophomore

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For Skyview High School sophomore Hannah Wilson, remembering to be a young girl is the most challenging part of her performance.

“Being a teenager, you’re kind of down, but kids are happy a lot of the time. Trying to embody their active enjoyment and happiness is a challenge,” said the 15-year-old. “You just have to remind yourself, ‘No, you are not a teenager, you are in fact a child.’ You want to be a child without being too over the top and cheesy.”

She will be playing Wanda in Oregon Children’s Theatre’s upcoming production of “Fancy Nancy.” The musical is inspired by the popular series of children’s books by the same name, starring Nancy, a young grade-schooler who loves to be fancy, often hosting tea parties with her friends Wanda, Rhonda, Bree and Lionel.

Wilson began exploring the world of theater after signing up for voice lessons with Vancouver’s Journey Theater Arts Group. “(Theater) is a way for me to express myself, in a way that I can’t express in any other way,” she said. “I love embodying people and seeing how they would react to certain scenes. I find it fascinating that people can become a total different person.”

Wilson decided to pursue professional theater when, after a spell of auditioning, she landed a spot in last year’s Oregon Children’s Theatre production “A Year With Frog and Toad.” The production won seven Drammy Awards, Portland’s local version of the Tony Awards. She also performed in Portland Center Stage’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” along with singing in three Portland Opera productions.

“When you’re performing in front of kids, they’re very active and they really like shows. I love performing for kids; it gives me a sort of happiness and energy,” Wilson said. Wilson has the extra challenge of pretending to be a twin. Wanda has an identical twin named Rhonda, played by Annie Barker. To make the twins believable, the two actresses would repeat each other’s mannerisms, constantly observing one another. “We have to develop those things in a very short period of time,” Wilson said.

“We aren’t related, but we’re playing identical twins. They are very sporty girls,” she said. The two characters compete against each other during a duet called “On my Team.”

“Oregon Children’s Theatre is probably my favorite children’s theater to work with; they’re very professional with how they run their shows,” said Wilson. “Fancy Nancy” will be Wilson’s second show with the theater company.

“I do want to do this for the rest of my life. Theater, it is my passion,” she said.

Oregon Children’s Theatre presents “Fancy Nancy: The Musical” May 10 through June 1, with performances at 2 and 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland. Tickets are $18 to $30, $15 to $26 for children. Call 503-228-9571 or visit octc.org.


Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.