SINGER and vocal expert Alexandra Hans (33) is known for performing with female ensemble group the D-Day Darlings, who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. She trained at the Northern College of Performing Arts and is an Associate of the London College of Music. The Parkgate performer is also the principal of training company, The Voice Academy.
Q: Have you always been a performer? When did you start singing and dancing for your family? Do you think you were “born to do it”?
A: I have performed in local productions since the age of seven in the King and I at the Rotherham Civic. Performing is in my blood! My nan was a dancer in a local operatic society when she was younger, which is how she met my grandpa! My mum has always been involved in amateur dramatics and my sister was an amazing dancer from a very young age, so I would say I was born to do it! From very early on, I knew this was all I wanted to do when I grew up!
Q: When do you discover you loved singing and how did you develop your talent? Do you have any memories of your first rehearsals or performances?
A: I started singing lessons when I was eight with a lovely lady called Mrs Bridges who taught me all of my techniques and I began singing very traditional/classical songs, this was my passion and I loved my lessons. As I went into professional work, on each contract I learnt so much from different musical directors and choreographers and learnt how to use my voice in different ways and for different genres of music. It broadened my knowledge of music and challenged me to try new songs. My first professional contract was touring around hotels in Tenerife in a Motown-style show.
Q: What part if any did you play in school productions? Were you nervous before curtain up or did you relish the spotlight?
A: I played various roles in local theatre, Artful Dodger in Oliver, Annie in Annie, Brigetta, Louisa and Liesel in the Sound Of Music. I don’t ever remember being nervous before a performance…more excited! The thrill of an audience watching and applauding is like no other! The most nervous I have ever felt was on BGT when we were waiting on the stage to find out if we had made it into the finals! My heart was racing and the pure excitement once we were told we were through was electric!
Q: When, how and why did you decide to make the leap from performer to director/tutor/producer? Was it tough going from taking instructions to giving them?
A: After working abroad for over ten years, I decided it was time to set up roots back home and so alongside professional work with The D-Day Darlings and another company I work for, Undercover Artists, I decided to share my knowledge with others and was approached by two girls who wanted to train with me.
Q: Who have been your favourite people to work with over the years — have there been some memorable characters?
A: When you work away on contract and on tour, your cast members become your family and you create bonds that last forever. I have many friends all over the world with whom I have worked with. When I returned home I appeared as Jasmine in the Rotherham Civic Panto alongside a very good friend who I met whilst working in Madeira, the very talented Ricky K! It was great working together! I love working with the Darlings. We all get on so very well and we have shared so many amazing experiences and met so many amazing people a few highlights being Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec, Olly Murs, and Michael Ball! We performed with him on Radio 2 just before Christmas, he was so lovely and fun! Of course, I am so grateful to have an amazing team at The Voice Academy, Beth, Lexi, Danyl, Victoria, Jonah and Kerry are all incredible coaches and so supportive of TVA and all of the students.
Q: What have been your most memorable shows in Rotherham and further afield?
A: I really enjoyed playing Jasmine in the Rotherham Panto, alongside The Beast from The Chase. A few other shows stand out, my second cruise contract with Celebrity Cruise Liners was amazing, i loved the shows and visiting all of the amazing countries, we even sailed to Antarctica twice! I am part of another group called The Bombshell Belles, we have supported and worked closely with an amazing band called Sabataon on a number of occasions. We performed with them on stage at their Open Air concert in Sweden, it was the most amazing thing to see almost 10,000 fans singing along and it was the biggest buzz being on stage with these amazing musicians!
Q: How did you come to join the D-Day Darlings and how enjoyable has your time with the group been? Have you been involved in any particularly memorable shows?
A: I applied via an add in The Stage and went to audition for the Darlings, the competition was very high and I didn't think I had a chance, but was delighted to get a call from Katie to offer me the job of singing with the Darlings and The Bombshell Belles. We have been through a lot together and shared a lot of amazing experiences! One particular highlight was singing The White Cliffs of Dover on the White Cliffs of Dover for our BGT VT, it was such an emotional feeling. We also loved performing at the Chelsea Flower Show, meeting the Chelsea Pensioners and singing with them at the DDAY 75 garden as well as the whole BGT experience which was just phenomenal. There have been some very emotional performances with the Darlings and we have been fortunate enough to spend time with our heroes and veterans and hear their incredible stories.
Q: What are the best and worst parts of life with a large vocal group?
A: The best parts of being in a large group are the friends we have made and the experiences we have shared together. When there are nine of us and we all have our own harmonies, the sound is stunning! The worst is probably when we are given a small changing room and all have to try and cram in to get darling ready with one mirror!
Q: How does it feel to be a Top 5 artist? The D-Day Darlings album reaching so high in the charts must have been quite a thrill?
A: It was such an incredible feeling and an amazing achievement. Katie, whose group it is, and our management, worked so hard behind the scenes with Sony to make everything come together over VE Day weekend, with performances all over the media which we prerecorded or interviewed live from our homes. We charted at number 15 on the original release, so to chart in the top ten is a dream come true!!
Q: Have you had any particularly funny experiences or moments on stage or backstage?
A: One of the times that stands out for me is when we made our West End debut at the Drury Lane Theatre for the RAF Gala, Timeflies for Prince Michael of Kent. I had left my shoe in my car in the Midlands, so had to borrow someone’s shoe which was three sizes too small, and use gaffa tape to change the appearance to match the Darlings’ shoes. So I made my West End debut and met the Prince with a makeshift shoe!
Q: Coronavirus has caused huge disruption to performance academies and the entertainment industry as a whole? How are you coping with this and keeping morale up both for yourself and your students?
A: We have been so fortunate to have so much support throughout this situation. We immediately set up online coaching for all our coaches and over 125 students now train online and we hold our group sessions over Zoom each week working toward our performances later in the year, which we are hoping will go ahead! We have also compiled two videos to help raise money for charities, the first was the song You Will Be Found raising money for the NHS Charities Together which has had over 21k views, and the second was When You Believe raising money for the Sheffield Children's Hospital which has had 13k views! We are passionate about raising money for charity and over the last five years have raised over £5,000 for Bluebell Wood through concerts and fundraising.
Q: What would be your message to someone who thinks they might like to be on the stage but isn't sure how to start?
A: Confidence is the key! I haven’t always been the most confident person, but when I found myself in a situation where I was out of my comfort zone, I embraced it and told myself, you can do this! I would recommend good training, do the research and find a training facility which suits you, offers excellent training and makes you feel comfortable. The more an individual feels comfortable and supported, the more confident and inspired they will be.