A spectacular opportunity

Nine-year-old Hannah Beard has been cast in the mass ensemble for the Hairspray - The Arena Spectacular in Newcastle in July. Scott Calvin photo.

Nine-year-old Hannah Beard has been cast in the mass ensemble for the Hairspray - The Arena Spectacular in Newcastle in July. Scott Calvin photo.

WINGHAM'S Hannah Beard will join big name musical stars Christine Anu and Simon Burke on stage later this year.

The nine-year-old has been cast in the mass ensemble for Harvest Rain Theatre Company's Hairspray - The Arena Spectacular, which will be staged at Newcastle Entertainment Centre in July.

The talented dancer was inspired to try out after seeing the Taree Arts Council production of Mary Poppins at the Manning Entertainment Centre last year.

The family learned about applying for an audition through the DanceLife email newsletter, which Hannah's mum Kylie received after she signed her daughter up for the Showcase and CoastQuest competitions.

"I mentioned to Hannah they were looking for young people to be part of the mass cast for Hairspray in Newcastle and she was very keen to apply for an audition, especially since she was doing a dance out of Hairspray in the Kerrie Renee Dance Studio end of year concert.

Hannah Beard danced in a group routine to the song You Can't Stop the Beat from Hairspray during her end of year dance concert with the Kerrie Renee Dance Studio.

Hannah Beard danced in a group routine to the song You Can't Stop the Beat from Hairspray during her end of year dance concert with the Kerrie Renee Dance Studio.

"She loves the music and watching the DVD of the show and she thought she would give it a go."

They also felt it would be a similar experience to Mary Poppins, although on a bigger scale.

Hannah had no expectations and was happy just to have the experience, even if she didn't get in.

Kylie filled out the application and a few weeks later received a reply, offering Hannah an audition.

"There was heaps and heaps of people," said Hannah.

"They gave you a song to practice (You Can't Stop the Beat) and you had to sing it. They also taught you a dance that you had to do."

Kylie took Hannah to Newcastle in December for the audition where she was in a group fo 200 people auditioning together.

"They were auditioning people all day in groups of 200 at a time," said Kylie.

"During the audition they had to perform the song together as a group while the directors and members of the production team watched them perform and walked amongst them to listen and watch them more closely.

"All the people auditioning had to learn the new choreography given to them and perform the choreography, without prompting, while the directors and production team watched again."

Hannah really enjoyed the audition experience.

"I'd do it again."

Less than a week later, Hannah received an email offering her a place in the mass ensemble cast, which consists of 500 young people aged between nine and 21.

It came as a surprise and she didn't quite believe it at first.

"I didn't think I was going to get in," she said.

Hannah will attend intensive training bootcamps during the school holidays in April and July prior to giving five performances between July 15 and 17.

"They will be teaching them what they have to do for the show," said Kylie.

It isn't clear exactly what her role entails yet.

"They haven't sent out the final details."

Hannah is excited about what is ahead.

"The bootcamp is to see what you have to do. I'm also getting this special shirt that you have to have. They split you up into groups for your colour," she said.

She's also looking forward to getting on stage and performing with her fellow castmates.

According to the production's website, the bootcamp will focus on vocal health, character building, thematic discourse and a range of other important theatre skills.

The show is directed and choreographed by Callum Mansfield and features Simon Burke (Playschool, Mary Poppins) as Edna Turnblad, Christine Anu (Aria award winner, star of RENT) as Motormouth Maybelle, Wayne Scott Kermond (Anything Goes, Singing' in the Rain) as Wilbur Turnblad and a core cast of 30 professional performers along with the amateur ensemble of more than 500 performers.

It is being described as the largest production of the musical ever staged in the world.

Hannah's involvement in the show is a big step for the young dancer, who has previously only performed at eisteddfods and during Kerrie Renee Dance Studio concerts.

Dance a passion for Hannah

Hannah Beard

Hannah Beard

HANNAH Beard has been dancing since she was four and currently attends classes in ballet, jazz and tap at the Kerrie Renee Dance Studio.

She began group eisteddfod performances when she was five and solos when she was six.

This year she will do six solos in the styles of classical ballet, tap (both fast and slow), demi, modern and jazz.

"I like all the dance (styles) but tap is probably my favourite," said Hannah.

Last year Hannah, from Wingham, competed at the Port Macquarie regional of the Showcase National Dance Championships (which culminate in a national event held at the Gold Coast) and was placed in the top 10 of all dancers aged nine to 11.

Hannah Beard mid-routine.

Hannah Beard mid-routine.

She qualified to compete in the nationals on the Gold Coast but decided not to enter nationals this year.

2016 has already started well.

In early January, Hannah won six trophies at the Ritz and Glitz Dance challenge at Metford, gaining two firsts, three seconds and one third.

She also competed in the Coast Quest Championships held at Wyong and gained three firsts and three seconds.

The trophies she won at both were for solo routines as well as improvisation dance sections.

Hannah is also in the school choir and dance group at Wingham Brush Public School.

Her mum Kylie describes her as focused, determined, hardworking and said she always wants to practice her dancing.

lauren.green@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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