Mamma Mia: how Alice O’Hanlon graduated through the West End stage
In her third year at Mountview, newly signed Winterson’s actress, Alice O’Hanlon, attended her first audition – and received her first role. She has now joined the cast of Mamma Mia in the West End and still managed to graduate drama school, having been directly assessed on her work in the show itself. We recently caught up with Alice at the West End Live event in Trafalgar Square to get the inside track on the journey from Mountview to Mamma Mia.
Here we are at West End Live – what’s it all about and what’s your role in the proceedings today?
“West End Live is great – all the musicals are on in town at the moment, and it’s a really good opportunity for people to see a little taster of a musical and think oh yeah, I want to go and see that. I’m here today performing in Mamma Mia, which is my first job out of Mountview. I was in my third year, and this was my first audition and out of it came my first job. So I’ve been very lucky. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, because I didn’t finish my time at Mountview, I kind of left a bit early. But yes, I do still get to graduate: they came and watched me in my final performance and marked me as my final show, so that was cool.”
And for young actors looking to get into the business, what was your experience of drama school?
“Our first year was mainly acting. We did a lot of plays and stuff like that. And then in my last year we did Into The Woods, and I played The Baker’s Wife. We also did a musical called Girlfriends, by Howard Goodall. So we’ve done a diverse range.”
How did the Winterson’s representation come about?
“Yeah, Niki came to watch a panel day that we did at Mountview, and then she kind of just kept in touch and watched me throughout my year in different shows that I’d done. And then once I’d done Into The Woods, as my last show, she was kind of like ‘I want to take you on’.”
“For me, wanting to go with Winterson’s was through my experience with Niki. She has a balance. For me, there’s a fine line between having that business like relationship, but also having an element of personal relationship as well, and I think that she hits that perfectly. Plus they have a really diverse book of clients who are working in film, TV, theatre, plays, everything, so that was kind of what attracted me to the agency.”
And what is next for you having gone so swiftly from drama school to the West End?
“Well my contract with Mamma Mia is a year, so hwo knows what will happen after a year. But I’d really like to do some straight acting, so some film, some television, plays something like that. I’d love to play Delphi in Harry Potter, but everyone wants to be in Harry Potter! But yes that’s a dream, that’s a goal, I think she’s such an interesting character and there is room for creativity with her. So that would be ultimate goal. Or I’d love to do a TV drama, something like The Missing, Silent Witness, Spooks, something like that, that’s the dream!”