Say You'll Be There: Hannah whips up the Viva fever ahead of Spice Girls musical



22:06 GMT, 12 July 2012

Spice up your life: Actress, Hannah John-Kamen is set to play Viva

Spice up your life: Actress, Hannah John-Kamen is set to play Viva

At primary school, Hannah John-Kamen dressed up as Scary Spice. Now she’s the title character in the musical featuring the tunes made famous by the group who switched on girl power.

‘I remember for my birthday once we all dressed up as Spice Girls. I was Scary,’ recalled Hannah — who switched to the Ginger Spice look as she posed for my exclusive photo yesterday (left).

The 22-year-old from Anlaby, East Yorkshire — who still owns a poster and T-shirt of the Spice Girls film — will star in Viva Forever! alongside Sally Ann Triplett (right), who will play her stage mother.

The two actors took part in two workshops when producer Judy Craymer was developing the show with Jennifer Saunders and her creative team — director Paul Garrington, choreographer Lynne Page and orchestrator Martin Koch.

Workshops, as those who are fans of the Sky Atlantic show Smash will attest, do not guarantee that participants will be offered roles when the production proceeds to the West End.

Ms Craymer, the force behind global hit Mamma Mia!, described Sally Ann as the show’s ‘anchor’. She will play Lauren, who lives with her adopted daughter, Viva, on a houseboat.

‘She’s a kind of earth mother type with a Spice spirit,’ Craymer observed.

Lauren becomes concerned when Viva
forms a girl group which enters a TV talent show. Across the footlights,
in real life Sally Ann and her husband, Gary Milner, understand a
little of such dynamics because their son, Max Milner, recently
appeared on the BBC programme The Voice.

‘Lauren’s a feisty mother with a bit of attitude and opinion, but she also has her own insecurities,’ says Craymer.

She’s also very protective of her daughter — particularly when the talent show’s producers delve into Viva’s background.

Ann is currently playing Donna, the star role in Mamma Mia!, at the
Prince Of Wales Theatre. She will continue with the Abba jukebox show
when it transfers to the Novello Theatre on September 6, then will leave
on September 24 to be replaced as Donna by Helen Hobson.

Reunited: The Spice Girls at the press launch of 'Viva Forever' celebrating their music

Reunited: The Spice Girls at the press launch of 'Viva Forever' celebrating their music

has just completed work on several television programmes. Her biggest
part has her playing a Costa Rican burlesque dancer called Rosa Maria
Ramirez in the second series of acclaimed BBC-Kudos drama The Hour,
which will be aired in November.

recently graduated from London’s Central School Of Speech & Drama
after a three-year BA course studying acting with a focus on musical
theatre. Hannah knew from a young age that she wanted to act. She used
to make her primary school friends who came to tea dress up and sing or
perform a play.

‘I’ve always known I was going to
perform and live in London,’ said the daughter of a Nigerian forensic
psychologist and a Norwegian former model, who still live in the North.

The Spice Girls back in the days of Buffalo shoes and Girl Power pictured at the MTV Video Music Awards 1997

The Spice Girls back in the days of Buffalo shoes and Girl Power pictured at the MTV Video Music Awards 1997

described Viva as ‘young, vibrant, with stars in her eyes — very
innocent’. The show is about how she handles success and whether or not
she has got the power to control her life.

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Hannah laughed when we discussed her own success and how she intends to handle it. Her father has told her to take one step at a time. ‘He said take things in my stride and focus on one thing.’

Rehearsals for Viva Forever! begin in October and preview performances will start at the Piccadilly Theatre on November 27 with an official first night on December 11.

Viva Forever! is one of two major West End musicals opening this autumn. The other is The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre, featuring songs made memorable by the late Whitney Houston.

London’s about to start jumping to a new musical theatre beat.

Say You’ll Be There!

Watch out for…
Actress Diana Rigg, is set to play Olenna Redwyne in the third series of Game of Thrones

Actress Diana Rigg is set to play Olenna Redwyne in the third series of Game of Thrones

■ Diana Rigg (pictured), who will play Olenna Redwyne, aka Queen of Thorns (because of her sharp-tongue and prickliness), the wily grandmother of Margaery Tyrell in the third season of the highly popular drama series Game Of Thrones, which will start shooting next month.

The actress will be a semi-regular character throughout the third series of the show, which is based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling novels. Olenna is a powerful, domineering matriarch and queen, who’s a mistress of the art of manipulation.

The drama will be shown on Sky Atlantic.

■ Bertie Carvel, the Olivier -award -winning actor, who begins rehearsing Damned Cultural Festival, which features all manner of artistic Olympiad events.
Many of them, particularly the Shakespeare Hollow Crown films on BBC2, are extraordinary. So too is Simon Russell Beale in Nicholas Hytner’s resonant version of Timon Of Athens — it’s in modern dress and I was totally engrossed at the Olivier on Tuesday night.

I went to another Olympic production, a one-off show called the Monster Games at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, North-West London, not knowing what to expect from a collection of skits by young people who are part of social inclusion project Minding The Gap.

These were mainly students living in Brent who were newly arrived to this country. The groups came from Crest Girls’ Academy, Ashley Gardens Project, Greenway (attached to Claremont School) and Queens Park CLC.

I don’t recall having so much fun since I first saw James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors. The Monster Games were so inventive, and I loved that these pupils used humour and what language they knew to get their points across.

It was theatre with a passion and these youngsters had a lot of the p-word.

Roger Rees, the Bard and Stevie Wonder
Roger Rees in 2006 film The Prestige

Roger Rees in 2006 film The Prestige

Roger Rees is about to get funky with the Bard.

The award-winning actor, (pictured) who describes his South London childhood as ‘Dickensian’, is bringing his one-man show, What You Will, to the West End, where it will run at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue, from September 18 to October 6.

He wondered how he could make his solo show about Shakespeare stand out. ‘I thought: how can I make it different. So I’ve made it hilarious,’ he told me.

‘I do one thing Gielgud didn’t: I play the ukulele,’ Rees said from New York, where he co-directed Tony-award-winning show Peter And The Starcatcher with Alex Timbers, which will later head to the West End.

In What You Will, Rees will play the nurse from Romeo And Juliet, Richard II, sing and tell ‘especially well-worn theatre anecdotes’.

'There’s even something involving Stevie Wonder.

‘It’s an irreverent evening that takes the fear out of Shakespeare,’ he said, before telling me how he left South London uneducat