A Quick Chat With William Hannagan

We catch up with William Hannagan, one half of the acclaimed Melbourne writing team Hanngan and Jenkin. Their latest show Until Tomorrow, an apocalyptic song cycle starring five of Melbourne’s brightest up and coming musical theatre talents, will be playing this May at the Northcote Town Hall.

Belinda Jenkin and Will Hannagan
Belinda Jenkin and Will Hannagan

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
An inventor. I had all these great ideas that I thought no-one had ever come up with before… usually two-in-ones… like an iron that doubles as a kettle.

Who is the most important person in the world to you?
What a toughie! you’re always bound to make one person’s day and leave a couple out feeling pretty peeved. But in terms of theatre it’s got to be mum. Nothing gets past her. She’s the toughest critic around, yet she still comes to every single show every single night.

What animal best represents you and why?
A peacock. I’m all about the plumage.

If you were on Deal or no Deal, how much would you need to be on offer before you walked away?
Oh I think about this a lot. But for me it’s all or nothing… bring on the $200K

What was the first piece of theatre/film/tv you appeared in and how old were you?
Dad used to make home movies on family vacations and I loved to present the weather. He doesn’t have a very steady grip so it would always be an earth quake — ten on the Richter scale. But I loved it. I was Grant Denyer in miniature (though we were probably the same height.)

Windows or Mac?
Oh I so long for a mac. But i am still on the shitty laptop i got when I was in year ten. There is no letter K and it has to be perennially plugged in. But it some how keeps kicking on, albeit at a rather geriatric pace. I really want to update, in fact i need to (while writing this my internet crashed and I had to start over)… but I fear some of the romance will be lost.

Favourite Food.
I’m a total gourmand. Food is my one weakness, I have no limits and frequently break the budget just to be up-to-date with the good food guide.

But my favourite food would have to be my grandma’s roasts which she would always finish with three choices of desserts. I really miss them.

Who is the actor you would most like to work alongside?
Dianne Keaton. In a heartbeat.

What five songs would be the first you put on a mix tape?
Oh I’m a bit of a dag but…
Case of You — Jonie Mitchell
You sent me flying — Amie Winehouse
Bewitched — when Linda Ronstandt sings it.
Anthem — Leonard Cohen. It changed me.
And, of course, a big fat Sondheim medley.

What is the best thing about Theatre in Australia?
I think that there is a lot of it if you look for it. In Melbourne especially there are always so many things happening and so many people willing and wanting to get involved, be it in comedy or musicals or drama or whatever. I also think that a lot of it is actually quite good. We can be a little self depreciating at times but there is no doubt that there are a lot of talented, hard working people around trying to produce quality works.

What is the worst thing about Theatre in Australia?
Probably a lack of risk takers (in terms of investors). That being said I don’t think edgy for edgy’s sake is good. I just wish we made more epic gestures and got rid of the kitchen sinks and pregnant pauses.

Name one moment when you looked around, breathed happily and felt content?
Every year, at the start of summer, as the year comes to a close, and the light is golden just around 7pm, I go to dins with a few friends and enjoy a crisp white and a linguini vongole. That is when I am content. Just thinking about it now makes me dizzy.

Where is the most interesting place you have traveled?
I adored Florence. I just loved the light in the piazza.

Who is the most famous person you have met?
I don’t know. I saw Stephen Hawking once. I chased the girl who plays Quin Fabray in a golf buggy too. And I met Adam Ant a few weeks ago. But I didn’t have a proper convo with any of them!

Most embarassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
My hippy outfit for the year four Christmas pageant broke and my pants fell down. Mum had sown it for me especially. I realise now that she probably didn’t hem it right in an attempt for me to recreate the Hair act one finale. She’s a bit cheeky like that.

What’s your life motto?
You! Hypocrite Lecteur! Mon Semblable! Mon Frere!

What’s your favourite post show snack?
Nudie does this juice with banana, apple, cinnamon and acai seeds. It looks like vomit but I’m addicted. The super markets always reduce it cos it looks so crap but I’m worried they will discontinue it. I also love a crumpet.

What’s your biggest phobia?
Not being recognised.

What is the worst date you’ve ever had?
I’m not a big fan of dates unless they are sticky, in puddings and smothered in cream.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Carnegie Hall

Until Tomorrow


2 – 5 May 2012 (FIVE SHOWS ONLY)
Wed – Fri 8pm, Sat 3pm and 7pm

Tickets: $25 full, $15 Concession, $20 groups 10+
Bookings: 03 9841 9500 or BUY TICKETS HERE
Northcote Town Hall: 189 High Street Northcote (Studio 2)

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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