Six‘s Queens Find Power and Positivity in the Women They Play
Plus, watch the cast of the Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss musical play a round of Henry VIII HERstory trivia.
If there's one sentiment to end Women's History Month with, it's the celebratory feeling of looking at the strong female characters of the stage—and the women who play them. For the current stars of Broadway’s SIX, their characters are not only heard, but are actually based on figures of history. Of course, what strength is and what it looks like is different for each one.
Hailee Kaleem Wright, who plays the musical's golden-gowned Catherine of Aragon, admires that her queen doesn't take no for an answer. “I definitely resonate with that. Any ‘no’ I will turn into a ‘yes’ or get to go my way somehow, some way.” It's a similar personality—one that doesn't shy away—that Leandra Ellis-Gaston connects with in Anne Boleyn. “In a really good way, she says exactly what she means to say,” says Ellis-Gaston. “There's no BS around it. There's something powerful about being okay with telling the truth at any moment.”
But for Bella Coppola, who plays Jane Seymour, and Taylor Iman Jones, who plays Catherine Parr, strength shows up differently in their characters. Coppola says, “Jane's very grounded, and I feel like in my life, I've had to really step up to the plate.” There's an even-keeled nature that also shows up in Jones' queen. “I like that she wants to bring people together,” says Jones of Parr. “She's a mediator, and also isn't afraid to question the norm and ask a lot of questions.”
Watch the stars share what they know about the powerful women they play in the video below.
While the queens of SIX previously spoke about honoring each other’s work onstage, the foundation for that began partially in the rehearsal room. “One of the things that I really enjoy about this group of women is we have such a similar work ethic,” Jones shares. “All of us at some point would come in at 9:30 when our call was at 10. On lunch breaks, we were running things. It made me want to be a better performer; you want to pull up and continue to develop and grow as an artist.”
Of course, there's always hard work that goes into starring in a Broadway show, but Wright turned to another strong female pop culture icon for her inspiration. “I went into full Beyoncé mode. I was like, ‘Okay, I'm going to sing on the treadmill every day, because I know I'm dancing and I'm singing the entire time.” Her cast mates erupt in laughter as Wright leans in to make the motions of jogging.
But there's another side to the hard work the women of SIX are putting in: the self-care of pushing themselves to be good, but not pushing themselves too far. As Nasia Thomas, the show's Anne of Cleaves, shares, “I've never been more conscious of what I am doing in the present. You have to warm up with this show or you will not be able to do it. I have to make sure that I have something green inside of my body.” She takes it to the next level, exclaiming, “We're already warriors, but we could be in Marvel movies after this.”
Overall though, the cast of SIX has made a sisterhood the center of the Queendom. It's a focus on positivity, respect, and advocacy which they have felt reflected to them from other queens of SIX‘s several productions and the audience. “With this show, everyone's celebrating all of the versions,” shares Coppola as she talks about how the fans embrace all the actors' takes on the Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss-written songs. “It's not like this versus this. I feel positivity from the Queendom.”
That feel-good energy that goes back and forth between the actors on stage and the audience is something Ellis-Gaston has really felt personally. When a fan began working on fan art ahead of the current cast's debut, the fan reached out to the actor to find out if she had any special requests for embellishing Anne Boleyn's new box braids. “I thought that was so sweet that somebody would go that deep into detail about the representation. That is quite magical,” she says.
As the women and fans of SIX lift each other up, advocate for each other, and continue to celebrate the power, grace, and strength they find in the musical, the effects have become obvious to Zoe Jensen‘s loved ones. The show's current Katherine Howard shares “My friend was like,' I've never seen you so happy onstage.'”
Check out photos of the cast below.