Hannah Christenson’s bubbly personality and outgoing nature exude an immediate charm on anyone that she is around and make her a great fit for the leading lady, Rosalind, in CU’s upcoming Shakespearean comedy, “As You Like It.” With about 20 plays under her belt in her second year at CU, Christenson’s expertise shows. She talked to the CU Independent about the play, Shakespeare and her love of acting.
How did you first get into theater?
I’ve always been a creative child. My parents have home videos of me putting on productions when I was two years old. The real story is when I was in fifth grade I was at a soccer game and one of the boys from the other team charged me, and he took me down and he broke my leg. So that ended my sports career. My teacher took pity on me and she was like, “You look so bored now, do you want to do this play?” So I did my first play on crutches. I was Ma in a play called “Tops and Bottoms.” It was kind of ironic because the pivotal point in the play was that this woman had to take over for her husband because he breaks his leg.
What was the audition like for the part of Rosalind in “As You Like It”?
At the beginning of each semester they tell you what the shows for each season are, and it’s a general audition. So you go in and audition for all the directors simultaneously and they’ll call you back individually and tell you that you can be in this show. So I got the call back and was excited because I’m a Shakespeare nerd.
What’s the director like?
Lynn Nichols is the sweetest man ever, he’s very soft spoken but he knows how to get you to do what he wants. He’s a great person to work with.
What is it like to do a Shakespearean romcom?
[It’s] hilarious because since we just opened and just got the audience, doing comedies are always tricky because they have so many tropes that have been done. You know that if it’s comedy people are going to get married, so it’s the fun in seeing how they get there — especially with Shakespeare, with the language being so beautiful. All the shenanigans are you confusing things with what you say, not necessarily with just what you do. It’s hilarious and awesome. Thankfully the audiences have been getting it so that’s good.
What’s your favorite part about the theater?
This is going to sound really cheesy, but I do really love just making people smile. People like being entertained and I like being the one to do it.
What’s the worst part about the theater?
Sometimes you can’t breathe in you costume. In this show we’re corseted, so you can’t breathe.
What’s your rehearsal schedule like with you being a student?
I’m a student, I work, [and do] theater — always tricky. It’s all about balance. Rehearsals will only ever be from 6:30-10:30 p.m., no more than four hours a night, except tech. weekend, which is 12 hours a day.
What’s opening night like as opposed to closing night?
Opening night, it’s that giddy feeling. It’s like a first-date feeling. You don’t know how they’re going to respond and you’re hoping that you’re going to put on your best performance. You don’t really know until you step out there. It’s like you only have a first chance to make a first impression. You just have to roll with it. Unfortunately, unlike a first date, you can’t be like, “Oh, my friend’s texting me.” If opening night is the first date, then closing is like the anniversary dinner. It’s the, “We’ve done this, we’ve got this.” It was nice and if we return to it later that’s great, it’s closer.
Have you done any Shakespearean plays before?
Not a full-on production. When I was in eighth grade I was in a Shakespearean showcase actually playing Rosalind. She was my first Shakespearean role and my most recent one.
What’s your favorite part about playing Rosalind?
How goofy she is. I mean, she pretends to be a boy for most of the show. We decided fairly on that she wasn’t very good at being a boy, but she manages to fool everybody but they’re probably just being really nice.
Catch Christenson in “As You Like It,” showing at University Theater through Sunday. For show times go here.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Bethany Morris at Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to the full interview: