Orange Is the New Black star on the Crawley and Southampton stage

Shawna Hamic – best known for her role as CO Virginia “Ginger” Copeland in the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black (2018-2019) – is loving her first-ever stretch of work in the UK.
Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch (contributed pic)Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch (contributed pic)
Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch (contributed pic)

She is on the road with the acclaimed musical parody Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch until mid-July, with dates along the way including The Hawth, Crawley from April 1-2 and the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from July 6-7.

“I have never had the chance to work in the UK before. I've come to London many times to visit and I've always said to my friends that I thought it would just be amazing to come and live here for some time. And really I just had to have a project that would bring me over and now I have and it's fantastic to be living in London now.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“And I just love your double decker buses! The drivers seem to be very nice. Some of them are grumpy but I admire that. There dealing with people all day! They have got the right to be grumpy but it's a great way of seeing the city. You can sit upstairs and enjoy the view.

“The English people look at me as a bit of an oddity because I'm from the US.”

But it's all proving thoroughly enjoyable. Shawna lives in New York City but in Queens so “enough out of the main part of the city so that I don't have to be in the busy part of it all day. I have a cute little street right near me with lots of shops so I'm not right in the thick of New York City all the time.”

As for the experience of the theatre in the UK: “It's great. Here in the UK you are required to do the vocal and physical warm-ups before the show. In the US you are just required to be in the theatre maybe 30 minutes before. But here you are there at least two hours before because of the make-up for this show but also the warm-ups that are actually required. In the States it is ‘Just do it yourself!’ But it's great here because you get into the space with your fellow company members and in those moments you leave the day outside and you catch up on everything, and that togetherness is lovely.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But I do think I'm still finding out what people find funny over here. There are references in the show that are very British and I'm just thinking ‘Can you translate that for me?’ It is interesting being the only outsider in the show. There are references to people like Matt Hancock and there's a reference to Clare Balding and I am thinking who are they and then you have to remember the language differences as well, like chips are fries.”

But the reward is the show itself with the chance to play Ursula: “The show started at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and I came to the party a bit late. It's a parody. And it's a bit naughty. In fact, it is more than a bit naughty. It is definitely not something you would take your children to expecting a version of Little Mermaid!”

With an original hot pop soundtrack and trademark filthy humour, the show follows Disney diva Ursula as she gives her take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea...