Coronation Street villain Hannah Ellis Ryan is swapping the Yorkshire Cobbles for the North East theatre stage for her latest role in the regional premiere of The River.
Hannah, who plays Hannah Gilmore on the ITV show, the lover of Jim McDonald and impersonator of his late daughter Katie, will be starring in the production, which is coming to the region for the very first time.
The Jez Butterworth play is being brought to Durham City Theatre and the Queen’s Hall, Hexham, by theatre company Elysium, Durham’s only independent professional theatre company.
The River has been set in the Tyne Valley by Elysium, with much of the action taking place in a cabin where a man brings a woman for a romantic weekend, but lines become blurred about whether it is one woman, or many.
The Australian-born actress, who plays leading lady ‘the woman’ in the production, has just finished filming on the world’s longest-running soap and says she can’t wait to tread the boards in the North East, after ‘falling in love’ with it on recent trips here.
She said: “I am so excited to be working with Elysium on this project. When I came across the theatre company I knew I had to work with them.
“I visited them in Durham several times and fell completely in love with the place, so I can’t wait to come back. I’m really looking forward to visiting Hexham for the first time too, I have heard it is beautiful.
“I am a producer, manage the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and am co-founder of another theatre group, Play With Fire. The theatre is where my heart is – I am looking forward getting on stage again.”
The 29-year-old, who lives Manchester, recently shot to fame as the newest cast member of Corrie, making waves by trying to con Liz McDonald out of her life savings by posing as her daughter, previously thought to be dead.
The controversial character claimed to be sick in order to get Liz to hand over thousands of pounds for ‘treatment in America’ and blackmailed Johnny Connor, threatening to reveal his affair with Liz to his wife Jenny.
Now filming has finished, Hannah is looking forward to getting her teeth into a rather different drama.
She will appear at the City Theatre, Durham on November 29th, 30th and December 1st, before heading to the Green Room, Queen’s Hall, Hexham on December 5th.
She added: “I have been playing a villain in Corrie and this character in The River is really sweet and lovely, so that will be a nice change.
“Coronation Street was a dream opportunity. My passion is acting and so whatever enables me to do this is great, but obviously being on Coronation Street was just amazing.
“Now that I am finished filming this play is perfect timing! The River is a very beautiful and abstract, poetic and metaphorical play. I love it.”
Hannah has helped to produce the play with Elysium co-director Jake Murray, and stars alongside Elysium’s other co-director Danny Soloman, who plays ‘the man’.
Jake, who formed Elysium with Danny in 2017, aims to bring the best of world theatre to the North.
He said: “Part of Elysium’s mission is to bring plays from all over the world to the North East and give them a local flavour.
“The beauty of The River is that it works on so many different levels. We have centred the plot on the Tyne Valley because we are based up here, but it can be set anywhere.
“Initially it is a romantic story, where a man takes a woman to a cabin for a romantic fishing weekend to get away from the city, and then the woman switches to another woman, and we cannot tell if it is a ghost story, a dream, a myth, or if this man is searching for someone.
“It is funny, sexy and about finding that person that you want to be with.”
He added: “This is a chance for Hannah to show her range of acting skills, it is very different style to Coronation Street.”
To buy tickets for the City Theatre, Durham shows go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-river-by-jez-butterworth-tickets-50820269795, or for the Queen’s Hall, Hexham, go to: http://www.queenshall.co.uk/events/river?spektrix_bounce=true
For more information on Elysium and their productions, find them on social media at @ElysiumTC