Lockdown fame, TikTok and playing the princess – our interview with Hannah Lowther
Hannah’s had a very busy lockdown – is she looking forward to a bit of kip as this year’s Sleeping Beauty?
Hannah trained at The London School of Musical Theatre and Italia Conti Arts Centre. Last year she led the dancing in The Elgiva’s pantomime Cinderella as Principal Dancer, and we are delighted to welcome her back to our stage as the eponymous Sleeping Beauty.
Like so many artists in the performing arts industry, Hannah turned to retail for income during the theatre closure period, but even if you take the girl out of the creative industry, you can’t take the creative industry out of the girl. Hannah released a series of fun musical-themed TikTok videos and has built a following of over 75k people, with over 10 million views after several of her videos went viral. She was even interviewed for the news!
We wanted to know what 2020 had been like for Hannah.
“Well, I was in Cinderella last year, and then it was back to work and auditions,” she recalls, “and then Corona happened and everything stopped! So I got a job at Tesco, but I have a massive passion for musical theatre, and I was missing the creativity it brings, so I started making videos of my time at Tesco.”
Bringing her musical theatre experience to bear, Hannah’s TikTok videos showcase different elements of her Tesco job, linking them to different musical theatre aspects.
“Every day I was seeing new things and feeling inspired as to how I could make them funny,” Hannah explains. “I was lucky because one of them was selected for “For You Page” and suddenly I was getting loads of views. Everyone thinks the TikToks are big scale productions, but each one only took one shift to do, it wasn’t a massive thing. One that got a lot of views, I filmed on my way out of work, with one of the clips being me running out of work – that TikTok has three million views! People call it “Tesco – The Musical”, but I am parodying songs with a Tesco twist, such as “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled.
“I can’t write songs, but I have new-found talent for changing the lyrics to existing songs and making them Tesco-related. 9 to 5 was one I did, and it got coverage on the radio and people sent it to Rylan Clark-Neal, the host of Supermarket Sweep, who tweeted it and then ITV and the BBC interviewed me! How am I making the evening news?!”
I always like to like to have creative input in things and on a TikTok video, I’m the director, I’m the star of the show, I’m the head of photography… I do everything!”
Hannah is grateful to TikTok for keeping her sane and maybe even providing the beginnings of a new career.
“TikTok is such an amazing platform for people to be creative,” she explains. “Especially through lockdown, it’s showcased that pe9ople are so talented in so many different things. I especially love that it’s just me how I am, not through a filter like on Instagram. I just want to make people smile, make people laugh – it’s really helped my confidence, I love it!”
Hannah has found creativity behind the camera, well phone camera, as well. “I’ll be the first one to say that I’m not bossy, but if we had a group project at school I was always the one directing things. I always like to like to have creative input in things and on a TikTok video, I’m the director, I’m the star of the show, I’m the head of photography… I do everything!”
Of course, with panto looming, Hannah’s creativity is already turning to the videos she might make at The Elgiva (watch this space) and after Sleeping Beauty, she is due to go back to Tesco.
“It’s hard to know what will happen with the industry, but I’d love to carry on the TikToks, maybe phasing out Tesco at some point. Not straightaway because that’s what people love seeing! Sometimes people take retail workers for granted, but the TikToks show them that I’m not just a shop assistant, I can actually do things, other things, than work in Tesco.
“Now, more than ever, post-lockdown, with Christmas coming, I think it’s good for people to appreciate that shopworkers are humans, we’re not just robots! We have other things going on in our lives, other than serving you at Tesco so I think it’s been quite nice to show that.”
Now Hannah is going from a really active lockdown to a very long sleep, as she takes to the Elgiva stage as Sleeping Beauty.
“I’m really looking forward to starting rehearsals and doing what I love doing. Oh I love the Princess role! It keeps some sort of storyline through all those added panto fun extras, and it is the sweetest thing, meeting all the children and seeing their faces when they see the princess. In fact, when it gets to January, it’s going to be hard to give all that up!”
Hannah loves the comedy in panto too; although there might not be as much slapstick for her character, she’s looking forward to watching it happen around her, and of course cracking lots of jokes. She can’t wait to get back on stage.
“Soon we’ll be rehearsing in person, wearing masks, staying socially distant, lots of hand sanitiser, so it will be different, but I can’t wait to get started,” she told us. “It’s going to be intense! We have one week of rehearsals, which is normal, but then a shorter run of two weeks, so not as much time to grow into the character.
“But we all can’t wait to be back on stage and that’s going to show to the audience, how much fun we are going to have in those two weeks! Changing things up to this shorter run is something new for the cast, but we feel like we’ve struck gold, as this is the only panto for miles. I am just so excited to get started.”
How does Hannah feel about this festive time of year?
“I love Christmas,” she enthuses, “but when I was younger, panto was never a family tradition for us. But it is now! As I said, I love Christmas, I love everything about Christmas… I am just a very, very excitable person, I’m like a child! But anything that involves wearing deelyboppers and a bit of glitter, I love!”
And going forward, what will 2021 look like, will we see a return to normality, does Hannah think?
“Little by little. It won’t be normal for a while,” she explains, “but the performing arts are so important to so many people. And I think people don’t realise just how much the arts and performing comes into their day to day lives; even just watching Netflix, that’s the performing arts. Everyone noticed when EastEnders stopped, so I think it’s about raising the profile for other areas, like theatres. People are still training for the industry, and I’m so glad it hasn’t put people off, even thought it might seem like a scary industry to go into at the moment. I’m a firm believer that people should do what they are good at – give it your best shot!
Plans for the future? Will Hannah’s TikTok Life be making an appearance at the Fringe? “I’ve not even had time to think about it,” she laughs. “I’m so busy, it’s really crazy. I work full-time at Tesco, so I hardly have time to think about about what happens after panto, in fact, I’m so busy, I don’t sleep!”
It’s a good thing Hannah is set for two weeks of sleeping on stage, then!
Catch up with Hannah’s brilliant TikTok videos HERE.