Sarah Hadland as Ginnie – photo credit Johan Persson

We talk to Sarah Hadland

We talk to actress Sarah Hadland about her new play Admissions, and her time at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom…

When the recent US scandal broke in the news – that nearly 50 people, including some high profile names, have allegedly paid money to ensure admission for their children into some of the country’s prestigious colleges through bribes and donations – Sarah Hadland was actually performing on stage for her first press night when the story came to light. “Admissions is a very, very current play, in light of what is happening,” Sarah explains.

Written by award-winning US playwright Joshua Harmon, Admissions has already been a huge hit on Broadway and is now currently on at The Trafalgar Studios in London before heading to Richmond Theatre on the 27 May. Starring Sarah as Ginnie, alongside Doctor Who star Alex Kingston, the play centres around Alex’s character Sherri, who is the head of admissions at a private school and the challenges she faces when her son doesn’t get into his university of choice.

“It’s about two families who have sons the same age, who have been best friends all their lives and they’re getting to that point of applying to universities. It’s the first moment in their lives where things are going to change dependent on who gets in and who doesn’t,” says Sarah, who is best known for her role as Stevie Sutton in the BBC1 hit comedy series, Miranda.

“Admissions is essentially about challenging family values – people may think that they are very liberal in practice but what happens if something actually affects your own child. How do you react when it comes to your door?”

Has Sarah found that the audience have identified with the themes?

It really makes people think about how they would feel in the same situation. And that is the point of the play,” she says. “It’s also incredibly funny, which sounds bizarre given the serious subject matter. But it challenges the audience’s thoughts on who they think they are. Everybody that I’ve spoken to who has seen it, has told me Admissions has really made them think about their own views and what they would do in the same situation.”

With such a topical piece, Sarah admits that the role of Ginnie has been demanding, but in a positive way.

“I do love doing challenging pieces of work, and opening up debate and discussion. It’s such an amazing thing to be involved with something so current especially with what has happened recently in the press,” Sarah smiles. “It’s totally different from TV work, as you have to deal with a performance from beginning to end eight times a week. It’s also hugely gratifying as the audiences are so vocal in their reactions. So far there has been laughter and lots of shock – people are really listening, and it certainly keeps me on my toes and makes me feel like I really get to flex those acting muscles.”

Sarah is no stranger to the stage having trained at Epsom’s Laine Theatre of Arts as a teenager, she then went on to star in London’s West End and several theatre performances over her career, her last being another contemporary piece at the Almeida Theatre called Dance Nation. Does she have fond memories of her time in Epsom?

“I went to Laine Theatre of Arts from when I was 16 to 19 years old and I’ve been back twice since to visit the college and to see the wonderful shows they do as they’re always incredible,” she reminisces. “It’s a really great school and I have so many happy memories of my time there.”

With Admissions not finishing its tour until the end of June in Manchester, does Sarah have any other projects in the pipeline?

“I’ll probably need a good rest,” laughs Sarah. “But I am excited that the new Horrible Histories movie is out in the summer.” Sarah has long since been a recurring guest star on the hugely popular CBBC series, and will be starring in the new film. “Unfortunately, because I was on stage, I didn’t have time to do as much filming as I would have liked, so my part as Ireni Iceni is small but it was
so much fun. And hopefully I can be in the next one!”

Catch Sarah in Admissions at Richmond Theatre from 27 May until 1 June 2019.