Bre Jackson, Keri René Fuller and Brennyn Lark recently joined Andrea Macasaet, Brittney Mack and Samantha Pauly in the company. Now, they’re spilling the tea on how they booked the roles on Broadway and the most fascinating parts about the historic wife of Henry VIII they play.
Fuller has already performed the role of Jane Seymour on Broadway about 100 times earlier this year. “I’m mostly excited because it’s always such a fun night when you have other debuts on stage with you,” she told Broadway Direct ahead of Jackson and Lark’s big opening night as Catherine of Aragon and Catherine Parr, respectively.
“I’m completely in my infancy. I feel swaddled up in my blanket about to cut the umbilical cord. This is my first rodeo” Lark told Broadway Direct ahead of her Aug. 9th debut. It’s not her Broadway debut, though. She played Eponine in a recent revival of Les Miserables. “I’m so lucky to be with Keri because she really is our anchor. She’s been through some of the process before so it’s been incredible to have her [by our sides].
SIX, created and written by newly-minted Tony Award winners Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is a modernized retelling of Henry VIII’s six marriages, presented as a pop concert. The show is mostly sung-through, meaning there is little dialogue, and there is no intermission. Marlow and Moss originally conceived the idea as a concept album while they were in college at Cambridge University in 2017. The Original Broadway Cast Album, SIX: Live On Opening Night has now surpassed 16 million streams.
What was your audition process like and how did you find out you booked the role?
BRENNYN LARK (Catherine Parr): I auditioned in 2020 around the start of the pandemic. I submitted a self-tape, which was not very good at all. Sans the dancing that we have to do in person, it was the monologue and Catherine Parr’s “I Don’t Need Your Love” cut of the song. I did not have any of the equipment I needed. The lighting was terrible. But A+ for effort. Then, I didn’t really hear much. Last year, I auditioned again but in person for replacements and for the tour. But I didn’t get it that time around. Around the end of December, early January , I went back in [for another audition] and I didn’t get it that time around either. Then it was the third time’s a charm.
KERI RENÉ FULLER (Jane Seymour): Spotify does new music Fridays, and SIX had come on back in 2018. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’ll write a musical about anything I guess.’ So I listened to it and thought these songs were good. I didn’t really think much of it because I was on the road [doing Cats] for a year. My last month on the road, I got an audition appointment for Jane Seymour. Entering 2019, [casting directors] had me send in a self-tape for the Chicago production before the Broadway production existed. I had a couple of callbacks and work sessions. I didn’t hear much from SIX and so I went on to the next project. I ended up doing Jagged Little Pill for like three days, and then the world shut down. I obviously was not cast in the Chicago production. Then, when they were looking at [casting the] tour, they called me back in again for Jane Seymour and I made it quite far. But I did not book it. That was in November of 2021. In February 2022, I got a call from my agent asking if I could start rehearsals tomorrow because Abby [Mueller] needed to take a medical leave. And here we are.
BRE JACKSON (Catherine of Aragon): It was a long road to get here. I started my process back in March of 2020. My original audition was canceled due to New York City’s COVID shutdown. In April 2020, I recorded a self-tape on the porch of my home because my family had COVID and I was the only one healthy at the moment. After a second set of self-tapes I remained in a holding pattern until I was able to have an in-person audition. In October of 2021, I was in the midst of re-opening The Book of Mormon on Broadway when I had my first dance call for SIX. At that time, I was still being considered for the tour. Then in May of 2022, I began my next rounds of auditions while still performing in The Book of Mormon and doing a workshop of a new [show.] I waited six weeks before getting the phone call from my agent that I booked it. There were many tears, war cries, and praises to God.
What did you each know about Henry VIII’s wives before doing the show?
BJ: I only knew the names of the first two wives, Catherine of Aragon, and Anne Boleyn. I knew mostly about Anne Boleyn from the movie, The Other Boleyn Girl.
BL: I’m not too much of a history buff so I didn’t really know much about the world. I tried to be a good student and read up about the Tudor area but I was not that well versed.
KRF: I was such a certified nerd. I loved European history. I had read a lot about Anne Boleyn but not really Jane Seymour. She flew under the radar for me. Studying her, I thought she was quite interesting.
What’s the most interesting part about the queen you play?
BJ: Her intelligence, fierceness, and fearlessness. She is truly such a badass. I mean, who else rides out to battle in full armor pregnant to rally the troops?! The sheer power and magnitude of her reach is breathtaking. She was a true warrior but pushed philanthropy, education, empathy, and understood how to lead. The more I learn about her the more in love with her I fall.
KRF: I’m a hopeless romantic, and even after [King Henry VIII] passed away he requested to be buried with Jane. When I took on the role for the first time, I was 28 years old. She was also 28 when she died so I love to draw parallels.
BL: The beauty of the show is that you really get to see their complexities. Obviously, as actors, we get to lend our own idiosyncrasies to them. In reading about Catherine Parr, she had such wits about her. She was considered one of the first women to ever get to be the author of her own works. And it was published under her name, so I thought that was really fascinating.
KRF: We had a chat about our specific queen’s history [with the creative team] because it’s so informative to the text. [During rehearsals] the queens had to do a presentation. It was so fun to watch how every single one of [the actors] did something different. A lot of them did a historical rap. [The creative team] highly encourages researching but they’re open to doing that with you.
BL: Our resident director sent us this “mockumentary” three-part series by the BBC. What was so fascinating was that [the host] would narrate everything and then integrate herself into the story. So she’d be telling the history and then all of a sudden, she’s a lady-in-waiting.
What does SIX mean to you?
BL: The opportunity for women specifically to be the creator of their own narrative. I hope that this show lends itself to others in the sense that we don’t have to play by the rules. We don’t have to just be one thing. You can be a multitude of things. When I think of SIX, I think of empowering and supporting women, finding autonomy and sovereignty. That’s definitely the takeaway from me when I stand on that stage. Hopefully that’s what I would like to represent.
BJ: It marks a new era of musical theatre. The power and prestige of a historical retelling to be centered in and about women is profound. It’s exciting to have a show that doesn’t need a man or a romance and still be entertaining is wonderful!
KRF: The show is so unique that so rarely do you see a true ensemble show. I love that we each have our own song and then we also come together and sing. This show, in particular, gave me a lot of permission to use my voice. Seeing everybody have their moment to shine is really inspiring to watch. I did close to 100 performances of the show and I never got tired of watching them. And seeing all of our amazing alternates make it their own as well. It’s a celebration and we don’t hate a 70-minute show, do we?
What aspects are you excited to bring to the characters yourself?
KRF: So rarely do you get a second chance to do something like this. The first time I was very trepidatious, I’m not gonna lie. It was my first principal [role] on Broadway. I was coming into a cast that had already formed a family. I felt like I was trying to fill such huge shoes because I loved Abby [Mueller’s] performance. Part of what makes this amazing is that I don’t have to be Abby, I can be Keri. I was always encouraged to just be Keri. But it was scary. It’s scary to be yourself on stage for 1,200 people to see. So this time around, I am letting all that go and being vulnerable. That’s what people love seeing on stage.
BL: It’s not a fixed science and I’m very much aware that my performance will continue to evolve. I feel like that answer will be ever-growing. But for right now, I’d like to bring some resilience, which I think Catherine Parr already has. When people see me [in the show], you’re staring at somebody that has dealt with a lot of rejection. The only thing I did was just keep showing up and keep believing in myself when others didn’t.
BJ: As artists, we bring our full and whole human selves to each role. Though Adrianna [Hicks who originated the role on Broadway] and I are friends – we haven’t spoken much about the show. I wanted to respect her journey as Catherine while also allowing myself to come to it with curiosity and without context.
What’s your favorite SIX song lyric and why?
BL: I love in the song “Ex-Wives:” “You want a queen bee/Well, there’s half a dozen.” That’s cute. There’s six Beyonces up here. It’s such clever writing.
KRF: It’s not necessarily a lyric. I know every lyric in the show. And when I try and think of a specific one, nothing comes to my mind. But the one moment that I am thinking of, I don’t know if anything will top it, is the opening of the show. It’s so cool. You are going to a concert and we all walk in. I feel so cool every time. It’s also before I have time to worry about anything like getting the lyrics and choreography right. So I just soak up that moment.
BJ: That’s not fair! There’s too many! The one that comes to mind right now is “We’re free to take our crowning glory.” It’s an affirmation. What a powerful declaration to oneself.
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