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Meet Annabel O’Hagan ’19, One of the First Women to Join the Hasty Pudding Cast

Annabel O’Hagan ’19 is one of the latest additions to the cast of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
Annabel O’Hagan ’19 is one of the latest additions to the cast of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
By Heide L. Rogers, Contributing Writer

Annabel O’Hagan ’19 is one of the latest additions to the cast of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
Annabel O’Hagan ’19 is one of the latest additions to the cast of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. By Courtesy of: David Perlman

Annabel O’Hagan ’19 is one of the first women to join the Hasty Pudding cast, marking a milestone for Harvard’s oldest annual theater production that has only casted male actors for nearly 200 years. After the Pudding went co-ed this past year, O’Hagan joined five other talented actresses who earned roles in the drag show performance that will premiere this coming spring in Cambridge, New York, and Bermuda. While this will be her first Hasty Pudding show, O’Hagan has performed in a variety of other Harvard productions throughout her time at Harvard as part of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club. She played the leading role in the past fall production of Harvard College Musical Theater’s “Chicago” and will be performing in HRDC’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

The Harvard Crimson: Tell us a little bit about your involvement in theater pre-Hasty.

Annabel O’Hagan: I’ve been doing HRDC shows since my freshman year. I started out doing a lot of musicals. My first show was “Nine: The Musical,” and since then my interest in theater has really grown in different areas. I started out doing only musical theater in high school and when I got here, I started reading some plays I really fell in love with and then doing straight theater as well. So my junior year I ended up doing only plays, which was really great, and, after this semester I will have done ten HRDC shows. Right now I’m in “Romeo and Juliet.” I am actually playing the nurse. If you know me, it’s not really a type casting role, but if you know me really well, then you know that it kind of works. I love that I am getting to play a character that is so bold and goofy.

I finished “Chicago” before that, which was absolutely incredible. It’s probably been one of my favorite shows I did at Harvard. I played Roxie in high school. “Chicago” was one of the first shows in high school that got me interested in musical theater and now it’s one of the last shows I did in college. So it’s been really great to see how much I’ve grown since then. I am also on the board of the Harvard College Musical Association which is sort of a newer theatrical group on campus that has been really fun because we put on cabarets and shows that are meant to engage the community and get them excited about musical theater in a less competitive way. The cabarets that we do are non-audition based so anyone can sign up to perform, so that has been really fulfilling as well.

THC: What do you find special about Hasty Pudding, how is it different from past shows you’ve been part of?

AO: Hasty Pudding is absolutely going to be a blast because the style is so big. I really love doing big crazy roles and Hasty is the perfect environment for that. I think what's really fun about it is that it's an opportunity to go absolutely all in on comedy which is something I’ve really loved doing at Harvard. Another thing that’s really cool about Hasty is that it’s so collaborative, the writers, Michael Perusse ’20 and Max Weiss ’20 have been working with us the past couple weeks in finessing the scripts and hearing us doing lines and tweaking them specifically for us to see how we deliver them. The show is really formed and partly crafted around the performers themselves, which is such an incredible position to be in. And the writers are just hilarious. It’s going to be a really good show.

THC: Speaking of collaborating with other students in the Hasty Pudding, how do you think including women has changed the Hasty Pudding?

AO: I think people expected it to change Hasty Pudding more than it actually did. Any critiques about adding women to the cast would say it’s ruining this drag tradition which is so central to the theatricals, but we’re still keeping the drag aspect. Half of the women are dressing up as men and half of the men are dressing up as women. So half the cast will be keeping up the drag tradition which is very similar to past years for Hasty Pudding. I think what’s really cool about the addition of women is that when you opened up the casting call to women, you opened up the room to a lot more talent as well. I think what is really incredible about the women in the cast is that they are triple threats. I feel so lucky to be among these other girls: All of them are the best singers, dancers, and actors I know on campus. So I think the Hasty Pudding show only can get better by opening up their talent pool.

THC: Are you interested in pursuing acting after graduation?

AO: Yes, I am planning on moving to New York after graduation and living the actor life which is really scary — it's a really scary lifestyle, but if you work hard enough and if you get lucky, I think the benefits of it absolutely outweigh the costs.

Correction: Nov. 28, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of women who earned positions as Hasty Pudding cast members this year. It is six, not five.

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