Six The Musical is taking the world by storm. Part pop concert and part musical, the show tells the stories of Henry VIII’s wives, and sides of the story that most are not familiar with.
Ahead of the show’s opening, I’m asking SIX questions to all SIX queens.
Today’s queen is Vidya Makan, who will be playing Catherine Parr. Vidya was most recently seen as Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George (Watch This). Other credits include Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet (Australian Shakespeare Company), Green Day’s American Idiot (Shake & Stir), Air Race (Arena Theatre Company) and Merrily We Roll Along (Watch This). Vidya is also a writer and composer, and is currently working on My Home Too, a song cycle about Australia and home.
Can you tell me a bit about your history with performing?
While I didn’t start performing on stage until I was well into my teens, I was heavily involved in music from the time I was very young. I started playing piano at age 3, sang in choirs from age 5 and started playing cello when I was 8. I actually learnt to read music before I even learnt to read English! I got into performing in musical theatre when I started taking part in my high school musicals at around 15 years old, and fell in love with it. I went on to study a Bachelor of Music (Musical Theatre) at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, which launched me into my career working in this industry.
What excites you the most about Six?
Where do I even begin? One thing that REALLY excites me about Six is that it really cleverly reclaims these women’s stories and CELEBRATES their differences. So to be up on that stage, giving voice and power to these queens, who also inadvertently represent so many women around the world, is something I am really really proud to be a part of. I also LOVE that Six is a brand new show. It is not often that you get to be part of an original Australian cast, especially for a show that hasn’t even been to Broadway yet! So I am really looking forward to working with our INCREDIBLE queens to introduce this work in our own way to Australian audiences.
Do you have anything in common with your Queen?
I do! We are both writers! One of my favourite facts about Catherine Parr is that as well as reigning as Queen, she was also the first woman to ever have a book published under her own name in English history. While I don’t write novels, I am a writer of musical theatre, and spend most of my time away from the stage composing works of my own. Catherine Parr was also very passionate about female education and caring for her family, two things that I also hold very close to my heart.
What’s one thing that people may not know about you?
Before deciding I wanted to do musical theatre, I had dreams of being a professional soccer player! When I was 14, I won a scholarship to train at the Manchester United Soccer School in England, representing Australia. On the way back home from the best week of my life, my dad and I got back row tickets to see Wicked on the West End. After seeing this green woman belt out Defying Gravity, I decided that I’d reached my peak with football and wanted to pursue musical theatre. After that I auditioned for my high school musical, got cast, and the rest was history! I also really, really love hot sauce. I legitimately carry hot sauce in my bag.
Why do you think people love Six so much?
What Six does, that very few other musicals do, is centralise every single character’s story line. So there isn’t just one leading story that we follow, there are SIX! And each story is equally weighted, in that no one is more important than the others. Each of the characters are so uniquely different in so many ways, even within the genres of their songs. I think people love Six so much because no matter who you are, there is at least one element of you that is represented in Six, and people love when they see themselves reflected on stage! This is why diversifying storytelling is so so so important, and Six all around the world does a really good job of also having really varied casts, representing all sorts of women. Also, it’s CAMP.
What did you know about King Henry VIII and his wives before starting on Six?
Not much! I knew that he was the guy who wrote Greensleeves, which according to more research may not even be true! I was also aware that he desperately wanted a son, and that he beheaded some of his wives. I basically knew he wasn’t a great guy, but it has been fascinating (and sort of terrifying) preparing for the show to actually understand what life was like back then, under his rule. I’m very thankful to be living in 2019, that’s for sure!
Six The Musical opens at the Sydney Opera House in January, before touring to Melbourne and Adelaide.
Tickets and more information are available at TakeYourSeats.com.au.