Hannah John-Kamen to star in Spice Girls musical
LIKE a lot of girls her age, Hannah John-Kamen had a bedroom full of Spice Girls memorabilia.
She loved nothing more than singing along with a hairbrush to Nineties songs like Wannabe and 2 Become 1.
Hannah never imagined she would one day be belting out the hits on the West End stage.
But that is exactly what the East Riding screen sensation will be doing by the end of this year.
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She's landed the plum role in the stage musical Viva Forever! written by comedy royalty Jennifer Saunders and produced by the respected Judy Craymer.
It features – and was largely inspired by – the music of Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Baby – songs that brought Girl Power to an eager generation of schoolgirls in the 1990s.
Hannah, 23, said: "It's absolutely amazing, I feel so lucky to be working with Jennifer Saunders.
"It's just such a great opportunity. The Spice Girls have been such an influence and an inspiration to me in my childhood.
"I was a huge Spice Girls fan. I used to collect all the dolls and all the T-shirts.
"I remember when I used to go to parties dressed as a Spice Girl. I was Mel B in a leopard-print outfit."
Alongside all the dressing up and role playing, Hannah found time to attend Kirk Ella St Andrews Community Primary School and Hull Collegiate.
But she was always a performer and wanted nothing more than to be on stage.
So she went away to drama school and is now based in London, though her parents still live in Beverley.
Hannah graduated last year and since then has been doing a lot of TV work.
The budding star, although up against a host of other wannabes, has enjoyed significant on-screen success.
She recently finished filming the second series of the hit BBC show The Hour. It will be aired as Hannah is on stage paying vocal tribute to her heroines.
Despite that, the stage musical has her full attention.
She says: "This is my theatre debut, it's just going to be so great. Judy and Jennifer have been such role models."
Despite its obvious musical appeal, Viva Forever! is not the story of the Spice Girls' lives and career.
But it was inspired by their music and is produced by Craymer in association with the Spice Girls, Simon Fuller and Universal Music.
The plot is a romantic comedy that tells the story of a family thrown into chaos.
Viva, played by Hannah, and her three best friends, Luce, Diamond and Holly get swept up in a TV talent show where stars are born and dreams are shattered.
Leading the cast is the highly accomplished Sally Ann Triplett, playing Viva's mother.
Chasing her dream, Viva is forced by the relentless process of the talent show to leave her friends behind and face the reality of fame.
Lauren feels vulnerable, fearing their relationship is in jeopardy and her adopted daughter may be lost forever in the fickle world of celebrity.
The characters confront the reality of fame and re-evaluate what it means to them and what their priorities are.
As well as several experienced theatre performers and back-stage staff, the production also features plenty of newcomers.
But none are thrust into the limelight quite as forcefully as Hannah.
Craymer said: "We're excited to be working with such a fabulous group of actors – not only does the cast include some of the most accomplished performers in British musical theatre, but we've discovered some wonderful newcomers as well.
"The story is not about the Spice Girls but rather a contemporary comedy musical with a funny and clever script by Jennifer, which is charged with all the energy and attitude of the girls themselves."
Rehearsals are now under way leading to preview performances on Tuesday, November 27, with the official opening on Tuesday, December 11, at the Piccadilly Theatre in London's West End.
Hannah is relishing the chance with the same enthusiasm she used to reserve for belting out Spice Girls hits.
She said: "The fear is a very good fear, it's what I've worked towards.
"The message of Viva Forever! is about staying true to yourself.
"That was the message of the Spice Girls and that's what I'm aiming to do."