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Young local star shooting for the moon

WHS grad achieving greatness at early age


Hannah Baker has found the love of her life — theatre.

If early results are an indication, she and the stage look to have a long and healthy relationship.

"Of course, it's not the kind of thing someone can plan, but I definitely see myself auditioning for Broadway and traveling shows," the 18-year-old recent Weatherford High School graduate said. "I'd love to be in the industry."

Hannah is off to a great start. She's performed with numerous theatre companies throughout North Texas in such celebrated venues as the Granbury Opera House, the Plaza in Cleburne, and the Artisan Theatre Center. And during her time at WHS she set the standard for excellence.

Hannah capped her high school career by being nominated for a prestigious award by Broadway Dallas, formerly Dallas Summer Musicals. She was nominated for lead performer in a high school production for playing the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, while she and her castmates were nominated for Best Ensemble and the show was up for Best Choreography.

Hannah Baker of Weatherford dreams of performing onstage professionally, and her career is off to a strong start as she has been in shows at theatres throughout North Texas.
Hannah Baker of Weatherford dreams of performing onstage professionally, and her career is off to a strong start as she has been in shows at theatres …

The awards honor high school performers from Tyler to Lubbock and all points in between.

"Being nominated was crazy. I wasn't expecting it at all," Hannah said. "I played a character I wasn't expecting to get nominated for. The Scarecrow is kind of silly."

In fact, anyone who has seen the legendary show knows Scarecrow isn't the main character, it's Dorothy. But Hannah gave such an outstanding performance she garnered a lead nomination.

The event wasn't simply an awards presentation. She and others performed a medley to showcase all the nominees. She traveled to Dallas twice a week for about a month to rehearse.

"It was a big commitment, just from playing a little character in an old musical - and then getting to work with these professionals," she said. "One of my directors was a major character in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. 

"That was my favorite part, working with those people. They were so smart and detail-oriented."

Getting Started

Hannah first hit the stage when she was just a child. She performed in musicals directed by her mother, Elizabeth Baker, at Mary Martin Elementary School.

At first, theatre wasn't that attractive to her. Then, something happened that changed her thinking.

"My mom put makeup on my face, and I didn't like that. But then, when I was about 6, I was in an ensemble for Peter Pan," Hannah said. 

Then, in the summer of her fifth-grade year, she attended a theatre camp in Granbury. That same year she performed in the Opera House Christmas Show, Meet Me in St. Louis.

"Twenty six performances for an 11-year-old," she said. "After that I kept auditioning for shows."

The Opera House has been a big part of her career ever since. In fact, she is performing Mary Poppins Jr. as part of the summer youth series presented by the Granbury Theatre Company.

"Hannah is the type of performer who garners  the utmost respect from her fellow performers. Not only because she is incredibly talented. Hannah is one of the hardest workers you will ever find," Opera House President and Executive Director Micky Shearon said. "Most importantly, Hannah is a genuinely warm, kind, and encouraging person who cares deeply about those around her. People want to work with her and be around her. 

"I can't tell you the number of kids that have ended up in our theatre academy program as a direct result of Hannah. There is no question in my mind that Granbury Theatre Company and Academy are better because of Hannah Baker's involvement."

Only 18 years old, Hannah Baker of Weatherford is off to a strong start in her theatre career, having performed all over North Texas and earning an acting nomination from Broadway Dallas.
Only 18 years old, Hannah Baker of Weatherford is off to a strong start in her theatre career, having performed all over North Texas and earning an …

Familiar with New York

The Big Apple is nothing new to Hannah. Earlier in July she spent a week there for a second consecutive summer working with a company called iTheatrics. They create junior shows from major productions and use youngsters like Hannah for test runs.

For example, they'll take a complete Broadway show and edit it down to 30 minutes for family productions.

Last summer Hannah helped create Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Jr. and this year she worked on Shrek Kids and Madagascar Kids.

"You get to meet kids from all over the country, and really cool adults, and we're all creating these shows," Hannah said. 

From that a script is created for theatre companies across the United States to use.

"Just last year they created Finding Nemo Jr., and I was just in Finding Nemo Jr.," Hannah said. "I kept thinking I probably know someone who worked on this."

Talented Family

Hannah comes from a family filled with talent. Along with her mother, who teaches music at Mary Martin Elementary School, her father Brent and older brothers Wilson and John Thomas are all musicians. In addition, Brent is a morning radio co-host (with Dave Cowley) on The Coyote radio station.

"They're the ones who taught me if you want something, bust your butt," Hannah said. "Practice all day. My mom taught me the importance of theatre and how it touches young lives.

"I grew up in a place where it (entertaining) was normal and encouraged. It definitely makes sense that I am who I am."

Along with her talents of acting, singing, and dancing, Hannah plays a little piano and bassoon. 

"She's a pretty decent guitar player, too," said Brent, who should know, as that is also his instrument of choice and one that he has played in bands himself.

Hannah also volunteers at church, mostly in the children's program. She tells and explains Bible stories, along with leading them in music sometimes.

"It's a fun way to serve," she said.

Favorite Talent

Of her many talents, Hannah said she loves singing best.

"I'm obsessed with musicality. The more I learn about it the more I see its greatness. You can do it anywhere," she said. "Knowing I can sing high notes I've never sung before, that's such a great feeling.

"I express whatever I'm working on most when I'm singing. But then, I grew up in a musical family."

Brent said, "We are very proud of her, not only for her talent, but her work ethic. She works extremely hard and doesn't just rely on God-given talent.

"You don't just roll out of bed and do all she's been able to do at such a young age. It takes perseverance and commitment."

Favorite Role

Asking Hannah to pick a favorite role is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. Each one is special to her in a different way, though she did single out some that made the biggest impact.

"Scarecrow is definitely one of them," she said. "When I got the part I said to myself I'm just gonna play around and they'll tell me if it's too much. I guess it worked. Plus, all my friends were in it."

She also loved playing Sister Mary Robert in the Granbury Theatre Company's production of Sister Act.

"That was so much fun, and I got some solo work, and the ensembles were great," she said.

Another GTC production she loved being in was the role of Anybodys in West Side Story.

"It's not a huge rule, but it's definitely important and unique," she said. "She kinda doesn't fit in anywhere. She's also kind of like me, very spunky."

There are also several roles that she'd love to play should the opportunity arise. They include Ado Annie in Oklahoma, Elphaba in Wicked, Grizabella in Cats, Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly, and a couple of very special roles.

"I would love to play Peter Pan, and the mom Heidi in Dear Evan Hansen," Hannah said. 

Battling through COVID

While live theatre shut down everywhere during COVID, Hannah said she was certain it would return. In the meantime, she did what other actors were doing, she made do.

"After a couple months we were doing virtual," she recalled. "It wasn't the same as having a live audience, but we got through.

"We also did a show with masks on. That was really a challenge. Half of your performance is in your face - plus, we couldn't project.

"But now I think live theatre is back and even better."

Recent Weatherford High School graduate Hannah Baker was nominated for a Broadway Dallas Award for Lead Performer in a show among high school students.
Recent Weatherford High School graduate Hannah Baker was nominated for a Broadway Dallas Award for Lead Performer in a show among high school …

Looking Ahead

Hannah plans to attend Weatherford College for a year to get her associates degree. Then, she will audition for other, four-year schools as she pursues a bachelor of fine arts in performing arts.

"I would love to be a voice teacher when I'm older," she said.

And while she would love a career in show business, she wants a family as well.

Through it all, she wants to continue telling stories through the shows she is in.

"That's what it is. You're celebrating what was created, you're respecting the script and seeing so many minds come together to create something consistent," she said.

Whatever the future holds for her, Shearon believes Hannah has the potential to find herself among the best in the theatre business.

"Hannah Baker is a legitimate triple threat. She sings, dances, and acts equally well, and she does each exceptionally well," Shearon said. "Hannah is without question the most talented young artist I've ever had the pleasure to work with. You can look for her on Broadway some day!"


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