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There’s no place like ‘Newy’: Tanya Hennessy

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Comedian, radio announcer and social media sensation… ex-Novocastrian Tanya Hennessy is a wearer of many hats.

And, this month, she added “playwright” to her resume, following the world debut of her new play, Drum Roll Please it’s Stevie Louise, based on the best-selling book of the same name.

But, Hennessy’s not just a multi-platform force.

She’s a content creator whose comedic chops have earnt her a Facebook following in excess of 1.1 million, with her total views a staggering 550 million – and growing every day.

It’s not a bad effort from someone who hailed from the Hunter.

Hennessy began her radio career in 2012 with Southern Cross Austereo at NXFM Newcastle.

She followed this with stints as a breakfast announcer in Griffith, Toowoomba and Canberra.

During that time, she also had a segment on the Hit Network’s national show Scoopla with Jules Lund and Emma Freedman.

However, the 36-year-old hasn’t forgotten her roots either.

“Newy was the greatest, I love it,” she said.

“Honestly, the best parts of growing up there were the fact that we could go to the beach or lake every weekend.

“We rode bikes, roller-bladed and went swimming until the sun went down.

“Oh… and we had street parties with our neighbours.

“Kids in our area would put on a Christmas show for everyone, which in retrospect would have been awful.

“But, as children, we loved it.

“Actually, that experience in Eleebana is what Stevie Louise is based on.

“I think walking the Warners Bay esplanade just to get Kiwi ice-cream is a favourite memory, too.

“You must get the cream and fudge… MUST.

“Also, shopping at Gardo (lol, not Kotara, I’m old) with mum and my nan and eating at the David Jones cafeteria.

“I miss that place.

“Or, Bon Oz; I miss Bon Oz, as well.”

In 2017, Hennessy’s rising star was recognised when she won the Junkee Award for Breakthrough Artist, was nominated for Cosmopolitan’s Woman of the Year, selected to perform at Australia’s first VidCon and won Best Radio Documentary at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRA).

She followed this with a second ACRA in 2019.

And, up until recently, she could be heard around the country on the Hit Network as weekend breakfast host.

In addition, Hennessy often features on national television shows with appearances on The Morning Show, Today and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, while she’s also a regular at Network 10, hosting The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise: Unpacked, guest-hosting on Studio 10, The Loop and The Project.

Never one to shy away from having a laugh at herself, she began her career as an actor/comic with a Bachelor of Arts Theatre/Media from CSU and has undertaken courses at Screenwise and NIDA.

Her funny and brutally honest online videos of everyday topics (Things People Say To Hairdressers, Things People Say To Personal Trainers) meant she’s built a worldwide following, too.

But, with the unveiling of Drum Roll Please it’s Stevie Louise: The Play at Maitland’s Upstage Youth Theatre earlier in October, Hennessy was keen to head back “home”.

The production centred around the life of 12-year-old Stevie Louise, a self-described entrepreneur, entertainer and introverted extrovert.

Stevie, with her friends, make up The Brooke Street crew and, together, they hatch a brilliant plan to have fun, make money and, of course, stay friends forever.

However, it wouldn’t be a tween dramedy without a few twists, turns and angry cats, according to Hennessy.

“I’m sure people – both young and old – will relate to it,” she said.

“But, a play based on my first children’s book was the natural next step, especially after thousands of book sales, a sold-out merch line and sold-out events at The Sydney Writers Festival.

“I’m a theatre kid myself, having grown up in this world from a young age.

“[Director] Ann Croger, who owns Upstage Youth Theatre, was actually my drama teacher at high school.

“Then I worked for her as a drama teacher when I was a young adult.

“So, to return back to the stage that first sparked my passion for this crazy life I’ve ended up in, it feels so full circle.”

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