Straight play or musical? Hanna Elizabeth Young fully admits it. She is partial to music. And that includes musicals.
“If you have a whole play and add music to it, people will listen to it more,” said Hanna, an ensemble player/understudy who has a featured singing role in “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” in the role
of Mrs. Smith.
The role was created for for Hanna especially for the Oct. 22 production. It came about when another cast member dropped out before rehearsals began.
"That person was slated to sing a duet with another character," said Felicia Hunter, creator of Fannie Lou Musical. She had to decide whether to spend time opening up the audition process again to fill the opening, or use someone who was already
in the cast.
"The problem," said Felicia, "is that the character was written as African American. And there's a reason for that. Yet, Hanna has such a beautiful voice, I knew she could do a great job with the song."
Felicia decided to ask Hanna if she were interested in the singing part. She was, and Felicia created the role of Mrs. Smith for her.
"It gives Hanna a reason for joining in the song, instead of it just coming from nowhere," said Felicia. "And, it's such a great opportunity to use Hanna's singing gift. She sounds wonderful in the part."
In addition to singing, Hanna also writes music and some day would like to produce an album of her own folk- and jazz-influenced original songs.
“I think basically the story and the music” together are what she finds compelling about a song, said Hanna. For example, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” instead of talking about it “grabs people better,” she said.
“I always loved music anyway,” said Hanna. Originally from Germany, her mother’s homeland, Hanna grew up in a household in which classical and other genres of music were constantly heard. Her dad, an Army musician, played trumpet and percussion. She knew she wanted to pursue music as a career but realized that, other than opera, opportunities to do so were better in the United States. So she came to the United States to study musical theater at the American Music and Dramatic Academy. She graduated in 2013. She continues to take voice lessons, and constantly auditions for roles.
Among her dream roles is Chicago’s Roxie Hart.
Then, there’s her favorite, Fantine from Les Miserables.
“It’s a show that really makes me think. I like it both story wise,” she said, “and music wise.”