Megan O’Hanlon keeps up something of a family tradition as she treads this boards this Christmas for Chichester Festival Theatre in their production of Peter Pan on the main-house stage (December 17-31).
Her brother Sam, now 23, and sister Alice (21), have both been members of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre before her. Sam has just come back from a Jackie the Musical UK tour. Alice is just about to graduate from Mountview Academy.
17-year-old Megan is keen to follow in their footsteps: “I am auditioning this year for lots of different places including Mountview to get onto musical theatre courses and hopefully to get into shows.”
Megan is currently in her second-year at Chichester College doing a BTec in dance. She has been dancing since the age of three.
“It was my mum mainly that got me into it. My sister and brother both did it and they chucked me in to see what I might make of it. I just loved it and carried on. I have been really lucky actually. I got to do full-time training at the Arabesque School of Performing Arts from when I was 11 or 12 until year 11.
“Dancing is great. It’s just expressing emotions that you don’t know how to express in words. It has helped me in all sorts of situations like my parents getting divorced. It was a kind of distraction as well as a good way of letting out frustrations and feelings. All of my friends that dance were just so helpful and just kept me going. It has helped me in all sorts of ways and has been so important to me.”
Megan is keen to enter a career in musical theatre: “I want to progress in acting and singing which is one of the reasons I came back to the youth theatre. I quit when I was about 13 because it clashed with dance, and I had to choose either/or. I chose dance, but now I can do both.”
For Peter Pan, Megan is playing the role of Tinkerbell – a role which is both fun and challenging: “She is very sarcastic and cheeky, and it is great fun to play because she is one of the comedy roles in the play. Smee is also a comedy role. But it is also a part I have never had a chance to play before. You have got the whole dying scene as well where she drinks poison. There is a lot to do.”
Megan has previously been on the main-house stage with the youth theatre in The Snow Queen and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
“It’s a brilliant space. You never really get to perform on such a big space, and it is also the fact that you are not just performing to the people out there in front of you, but also to the people all the way round. It feels like it is a really good skill to have as an actor, to be able to do that… even if you never have to do it again!”
You are conscious of the audience and you have got to ignore them to some extent when you are performing. But Megan is fascinated by the way the audience perception changes depending where they are sitting.
“I have seen things on one side of the theatre and seen things from the other side of the theatre, and it is a different experience in some ways – while also obviously remaining the same overall experience.”
Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?
It's packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.
There's recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.