Les Miserables is the worlds longest running musical as seen by over 60 million people in over 42 countries. With the movie soon being debuted starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway & Amanda Seyfried, I thought this would be an amazing article to share with all of you as I had the pleasure while on a trip to London to go backstage the “Her Majesty’s Theater” and interview two of the actors whom are part of this huge production! They even took me backstage to the “Phantom of the Opera” dressing room… Absolutely fabulous!
Simon Shorten is the talented man I had the pleasure of interviewing who played the role of Babet as well as understudying Jean Valjean for three years in Les Mis. At only 28 years of age, with a current role as swing and Phantom understudy in the Phantom of the Opera for the past two years, he is a force to be reckoned with. You will get to experience his talent on the big screen as he played a small part in the “Les Mis” movie coming out soon. Simon also played a huge part in the pre-production of the film as he worked a full day with Director Tom Hooper running as well as angling scenes. He was also the first person to sing the original song which will be sung by character “Jean Valjean”.
Other acting projects in his roster include: cast member in a couple of episodes of the television series “Emmerdale” as well as television series “Adams Family Tree”.
Meet this very successful young woman! 28 year old UK native Katy Hannah is someone to watch! With roles as swing and understudy Factory Girl in Les Mis as well as swing roles in the Phantom of the Opera, this missy is quite talented. She is also the founder and manager of a kick ass girl band by the name of: Swinging Sweethearts – quirky, sassy ladies who love nothing more than entertaining the troops. They were brought together by their love of the 1940’s and everything vintage. The inspiration comes from the likes of “The Andrews Sisters”.
When Katy first started in the industry with roles in broadway, she stated “It was SO scary when I first started. We had a revolving stage where if you didn’t step on with the correct foot according to which way it was turning, you were screwed as you’d fly off of it. Me being with a long skirt holding two lit candles when first stepping unto the stage, my heart was in my throat”.
“Les Mis was always a great inspiration to me. I remember watching the 10th anniversary concert on VHS with my mother at the age of 13, and saying, I want to be in the show or a part of production when older”, says Katy Hannah. I guess what they say is true – anything you put your mind to, is possible!
The Story of Us
Simon and Katy met at GSA (Guildford School of Acting) the first year they both joined. When Simon took one look at Katy and they started to get one another, he expressed to a close friend “that’s the girl I see myself marrying”. When Katy heard of this, she freaked out and dumped him. However; Katy says “Deep down inside through the years of on and off dating, I always knew we would be together – even through other relationships I had while working with him, he was always on my mind as there was a connection I couldn’t explain – it now all makes sense”.
The first play they achieved roles in together was “Sweeney Todd” which was an amazing experience! Shortly after came “Les Mis”. Within three years of dating, they got married. The marriage took place on the second year of Les Mis and they had the pleasure of having many of the cast – who had become family – in attendance.
I figured I’d share a brief interview I had the pleasure of doing and give you a better insight into this talented man & woman: Hope you enjoy it:
What inspired you to get into this industry?
Simon: I fell into it by accident – it was always a hobby rather than a focal point. I always thought I’d get into sports until I suffered an injury which led me to acting more & realizing that this was my calling in life as well as what I enjoyed doing over and over again.
Katy: I’ve always loved the sense of being on stage and affecting people in the way they feel through my impersonations & acting from the age of 5.
How long have you been acting?
Simon: I’ve been doing this from the age of 10 with plays in Middle School & proceeded to the local drama group in and around my hometown at the age of 15 and never stopped from then on.
Katy: I’ve done it since I can remember – from the age of 5, I started with local theatre through my local town productions. I was doing 3 to 4 shows a year and was always musically inclined. Played the Piano and Cello as well.
What’s the one word that comes to mind when on stage?
Both: Exhilarating – there is just such a sense of achievement when you can look out into the audience and see that they feel the emotions you are trying to portray on stage.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Simon: In five years I would love to be a lead in a show as well as I hope to be doing more television/movies.
Katy: With “Swinging Sweethearts” I hope to have an album out and be touring. On the theatrical front, I would love to have a lead such as “Glinda” in “Wicked”.
How would you describe your personal style?
Simon: One store comes to mind when thinking of my style: Super Dry. I’m nearly always in jeans and a jumper & have a very strong country influence in the way I dress – could be due to me being raised and living in the rural north side of England.
Katy: I would say my style is very influenced by the 40’s. Lots of red lips, red nails with a bit of Boho Chic.
A fashion item you each wear on a daily basis/something you can’t currently live without:
Katy: My Mulberry handbag.
What’s one thing that makes you stand apart from your competition in the industry?
Simon: I feel I have a unique face – profile. I have quirky features which work out very well for different roles and recently had a new photo-shoot & received many “you have a great catalog look” comments. I would say I am not your typical pretty boy and have a rather rugged look to me.
Katy: Most people are amazed at the voice that comes out of me, which I don’t think people expect from such a petite girl.
For more information on Katy Hannah, follow her on twitter at: @katyshorten.
For more information or to hire the “Swinging Sweethearts”, please visit: http://www.swingingsweethearts.co.uk.