Updated: Feb 7
It’s been two years since the feet of York Light Opera Company touched the stage at York Theatre Royal. We asked long-standing member Hannah Witcomb what it’s been like for her to be back in the rehearsal room, for the company of EVITA.
Were you in the middle of performing or rehearsing a show when the pandemic hit?
No, I was having a well-earned rest as we had just finished 12 performances of Oliver! At York Theatre Royal in which I played Mrs Bedwin.
Is Evita your first time returning to the stage since the pandemic?
Yes, it is. It’s been a long two years away and I’ve missed it so much – seeing friends and performing.
You are playing Peron’s Mistress on the Blue Team, what were your first thoughts when you found out you got the part?
I was so surprised and overjoyed! It was my birthday when I found out and the first people I told were my mum and dad who rang me to wish me happy birthday!
Had you seen Evita before being in the show?
I’d not seen it, no, but had listened to the soundtrack a lot. It’s so good to see the songs come to life as the characters fill them.
How does it feel to be rehearsing and performing again?
It’s so wonderful for be back with the York Light family and to be rehearsing together. This show more than any others I’ve done, feels like a huge achievement and that we’ve had to swim against the tide to make it happen.
What challenges have you faced in the rehearsal room?
I think the biggest challenge has been the number of people missing at each rehearsal due to the rehearsal schedule, other commitments and COVID. Huge credit to directors Sue and Martyn and the rest of the team, who have worked so hard to combat this and keep us safe. We have kept the two principal teams separate so we’ve had less rehearsal time than we normally would.
What does it mean to you to be returning to the stage?
I think theatre is one of the things that brings colour to people’s world and it is a joy to experience that again for myself and to think that we are able to help others know that too.
What are the challenges performing such an iconic musical?
I think the biggest challenge is the music. It’s tricky as the timings are so unusual and the whole show is sung like opera so timing is crucial!
What’s been your favourite thing about being able to rehearse and perform again?
Working with such an exceptional team to polish and produce this. I’ve also become close to my fellow blue team members and am so grateful for their talent but also their support and encouragement.
Even though you are only on stage as the Mistress for a very short time you have one of the most iconic songs of the show to sing. How do you feel about that?
Another Suitcase in Another Hall. It’s the one moment that the poor Mistress has a voice and she shows her regret and brokenness but also lots of resilience. It’s always been my favourite song of the show and it’s such a privilege to be able to sing it!
EVITA is on until Saturday 19th February at York Theatre Royal so there’s still time to get some tickets. You can see Hannah and the rest of the blue team perform on Weds 16th, Fri 18th and Sat 19th – all at 7.30pm.