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Hanson thrives both on stage and in the lab

Taylor Hanson, senior biology major, will star as Belle in The Players’ production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” this weekend.

Student theatre has been an integral part of Hanson’s life since her freshman year, having performed in three shows almost every semester.

Recent shows that she has starred in include “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” and “Anything Goes.” “Beauty and the Beast” is her sixteenth performance at SVC.

Hanson noted that she is especially excited for her role as Belle. Growing up, “Beauty and the Beast” was one of her favorite movies.

“Belle is definitely my favorite Disney princess. I know the character pretty well and I think it’s a good fit for my voice,” Hanson said.

Director Greggory Brandt is ecstatic to have Hanson play the role and is confident in her ability to deliver.

“Taylor is a terrific Belle! The role requires good acting qualities, both comedic and dramatic, along with a wide vocal range needed to sing the passionate songs. She definitely has both, as well as good timing and poise, which are required for that character,” Brandt said.

Hanson noted that every actor in the show has been doing a tremendous job in filling his or her roles and bringing every character to life. A lot of work has gone into the show, she said, and this is the largest scale production of which she’s ever been a part.

“Every role has aspects that you’re comfortable with and some that are new and difficult. I’ve learned something from every part I’ve played, and each one has helped me grow as an actor. And of course it’s always a lot of fun being able to portray and learn about a new character,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s desire to learn and be challenged does not stop on stage. She is currently working on finalizing her senior research project in order to complete her biology degree.

Her research aimed to find how birds responded to the stress of being held in captivity, and to find ways to reduce that stress. Hanson tested numerous variables, including presenting the birds with toys, extra treats and music. She took small blood samples to test the levels of stress hormones. Her work will be on display at the academic conference in April.

Hanson’s research project was inspired by her experience of working at a wildlife rehabilitation center. After graduation, she plans to attend veterinary school. She has already been accepted to The University of Pennsylvania’s program for Fall 2018.

Dr. James Kellam, associate professor of biology and Hanson’s research advisor, spoke highly of her work and his confidence in her ability to excel in the future.

“Taylor’s research proposal got me pretty excited, as it proposed a new learning experience for me as well. She has numerous attributes that make her a great candidate for veterinary school. She’s well rounded and has a very strong academic record. Her love for animals is unmistakable and she’s got what it takes,” Kellam said.

Balancing both theatre and schoolwork could appear to be a challenge, but Hanson said she views theatre as an outlet instead.

“I’ve definitely had to perfect time management. But the way I see it, theatre is a good way to get away from schoolwork and decompress. It’s something I love to do and I have a lot of friends there,” Hanson said.

Opening night for “Beauty and the Beast” is Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

The show will also play Feb. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.

Photos: SVC Flickr, John Wojtechko

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