Actress Hayley Gallivan plays Nancy in Sheffield Crucible’s production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver! which opens this week. The musical is directed by the theatre’s award-winning artistic director Daniel Evans, who also staged the Crucible’s critically acclaimed productions of My Fair Lady and Tim Firth’s This is My Family (the latter won two UK Theatre Awards).
Gallivan takes on the part of Nancy, a former member of Fagin’s gang who possesses the moral compass her lover, the conniving Bill Sikes, has lost a long time ago. It’s a role Gallivan has coveted for some time.
“I’ve always loved Oliver! It was the first West End show I ever saw, and since then Nancy is a role I’ve wanted to play,” she explains. “She is the most womanly character I have ever taken on, particularly because she is a sort of motherly figure to all of Fagin’s gang. It’s a very intense and emotional role, and as an actress it’s a real joy to get to the heart of the character.”
Her love for the musical itself isn’t the only reason that she is delighted to be a part of this new production though. “The thing that really drew me to the show was the fact that I would get to work with Daniel (Evans). He has such vision and an extraordinary mind; he manages to get a lot out of you in a very short amount of time. He makes you feel incredibly comfortable when you are trying new things, so working with him is wonderful.”
Gallivan trained at Arts Ed, graduating in 2007. From there she went on to be a part of Regent Park’s prestigious Open Air Theatre season, appearing in their productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ragtime, The Boy Friend and Lady Be Good. It proved to be an eye-opening experience for the young actress, then just 21.
“I was still at college when I got the job at Regent’s Park. I remember having to rehearse with curlers in my hair because after rehearsals I had to run back to college to do my third year show so I could get my degree! Up until that point I had been working with people my own age, and then suddenly being a member of the cast at Regent’s Park, I was working with more experienced actors, which was amazing because they had all these wonderful stories. It was a hugely exciting time because I was in awe of all these incredibly talented people.”
After Regent’s Park she was involved in a whole host of critically acclaimed productions, including The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Donmar Warehouse), Grease (Piccadilly Theatre), Spring Awakening (Lyric Hammersmith and Novello Theatre), Fiddler On the Roof (UK tour), and Ordinary Days (Finborough Theatre). She even got the chance to take on another role she had dreamed of playing.
“I remember hearing Wicked for the first time when I was at college and dreaming of playing Elphaba one day. I went to see the first ever performance of the show, so when I got to be a part of it, and go on as Elphaba for the seventh birthday celebrations, it was just incredible.”
With such a vast array of productions under her belt, what would she say to those thinking about entering the profession themselves?
“Never give up and work as hard as you can! When I’m in rehearsal, even though the call ends at 5:30, I still find myself thinking about what’s coming up tomorrow, and what I can bring to the table, at 1am in the morning! It’s hard to completely switch off, but it’s worth it. If you want it and you love it, just keep working at it!
* The Sheffield Theatres production of Oliver! continues until 25 January 2014. Hayley Gallivan performs alongside Tom Edden as Fagin and Ben Richards in the role of Bill Sikes.