Name: Hannah Richards
Name of Edinburgh show: The Dolly Parton Story
Venue: The Space @ Symposium Hall
Performance time: 13:45
Show length: 50 minutes
Ticket price: £13 (£11.50 concessions)
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I started singing when I was 8 in a church choir, started writing and performing my own music from about 14, and now I’m studying musical theatre at the University of Chichester. I achieved one childhood dream when performing in the West End in 2015, another when I released my EP at the start of this year and now I’m achieving a third one by performing at Edinburgh Fringe!
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
We’re telling the story of Dolly Parton’s early life and rise to success, with live performances of some of her most famous songs. I’m not trying to imitate her (no blonde wigs in this show!), but instead sharing her incredible story and the music that came from it.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
We actually started discussing ideas at Edinburgh Fringe last August (2017) and then began piecing those ideas together and rehearsing almost as soon as we got back, so just under a year! I think Dolly’s story is incredibly relevant in 2018 – with everything going on in the world right now, I think we could all learn a lot from Dolly’s never-ending positivity and generosity in life.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Be open to everything and don’t be afraid to try something new, go and see a show you’d never normally try, and just make the most of every second here because you will never experience anything quite like this amazing festival anywhere else!
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Last year I was in a production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at university, and there was a scene in act 2 where one of the boys had to run on stage naked, wearing just a police hat covering… well you get the idea. He asked another member of the cast to nudge him when his entrance was as he often got it muddled, except in one show this cast member also got it wrong, so he ran onstage naked 2 scenes too early!
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Obviously Dolly Parton, she is unashamedly herself and proud to be that way, she is positive, generous, and full of energy – we can all learn a lot from that!
Other inspirations for me are Carrie Hope Fletcher, Dame Judi Dench, Ward Thomas and Tom Chaplin. I think you can always learn something from everyone and everything, so I am constantly inspired by my fellow performers from home too!
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I always make sure I’ve eaten, and had plenty of water, and of course warmed up both vocally and physically! I also check everything I will need during the show is ready and exactly where I need it. And you’ll often find me in a corridor quietly reading a book to calm my nerves!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Of course, all my friends from the other Night Owl productions! I’ve also seen there are productions of Sister Act, Little Shop of Horrors and Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street happening so I’m hoping to catch all of them. I saw Elsa Jean McTaggart and ‘Simon and Garfunkel: Through the years’ last summer so I’m definitely hoping to catch them again too. And, although I can’t go because it clashes with my show, I’d recommend going to 35mm – it’s a musical performed by the graduate company from University of Chichester and I have no doubt it will be wonderful!
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t sing along to Dolly’s music, but I think it’s equally as important to understand where she came from and how that music came to be. And we can always have a singalong too!
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