June 2017

SHMM GTA lands tour with "worldwide phenomenon" Dirty Dancing stage show

Read time: approx 2 mins

Hannah Forbes first came to UCB as a Level 2 student in 2009, before eventually progressing onto a degree in Specialist Hair & Media Make-up and finally becoming a Graduate Teaching Assistant with the University. Hannah’s long journey with UCB is now sadly coming to an end - but as one door closes, another door always opens, and this GTA is going out in style. Her next step is to embark on a tour within the wig department of a much-celebrated onstage adaptation of the film Dirty Dancing.

Previously having worked on other productions with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, including well-known shows Cinderella and The Tempest, Hannah quickly got to grips with the fast-paced theatre industry after she graduated - and just as quickly learned to love it.

“When you’re working on shows like that, staying calm under pressure is a must. There are quick changes, complicated looks and the hours are long and intense,” Hannah said, “But it’s all worth it when everything goes to plan.”

The student-turned-Graduate Teaching Assistant partly attributes her passion and success to the freedom she was granted in her degree, where she first discovered her love of prosthetics and wig-making. Hannah also claims to have “learned a lot” in her past year as a GTA – including countless skills she believes will benefit her during her upcoming tour:

“One of the highlights of this year for me was the knowledge that I had helped particular students to go from average grades to excellent ones. Guiding and supporting those students has taught me the real value of being kind, being personable and not giving up. These are also qualities I’ve noticed people really value in the theatre business,” she said.  

So, in terms of Hannah’s secret to success, it doesn’t look as though there is any magic formula – but kindness and determination are good places to start.

“The advice I would give to any student thinking of going into the theatrical hair and make-up industry is to learn to take rejection on the chin” Hannah added. “Keep trying, keep applying, and eventually you will get an opportunity.”

When it comes to her future plans, Hannah has taken her own advice and said she will keep applying for tours, with a view to one day going in to hair and make-up for film. For now, though, she’s focusing on the task at hand: travelling across Europe and the UK with a show described by the Observer as “the biggest live theatre sensation of all time.”

Find out more about UCB’s Specialist Hair and Make-up department here.

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