ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
History will soon again be making its way to Wichita’s Century II.
The Tony Award-winning show 'SIX' will be making its way to Wichita's Century II the week of Sept. 19. Performances are Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 24 at 1 and 6:30 p.m. The show follows the SIX wives of Henry VIII, each of whom take the microphone to turn heartbreak into a celebration of empowerment.
As two of the show’s Queens tell it, they are excited to be making their way to Wichita for the first time.
“I'm always really excited to explore the cities we visit and get into the food, I call the other Queens my 'Taste Buds,' so we're excited to chow down on Wichita's best,” Terica Marie (who portrays Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anna of Cleves) said. “We're also excited to get to know the audiences themselves and be able to present this beautiful show to a new city, which is always the best part.”
“I would totally have to agree with that, I also like tasting my way through the cities we go through. I've never been to Wichita, so I'm excited to be in a new city and see what all there is!” Gerianne Perez (who portrays Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon) added with a laugh.
Both added they got introduced to the show at around the same time.
“My first interaction with 'SIX' was when I was in college and was introduced to the cast album for the first time. After listening to it, I knew I wanted to be in the room and find a way to be part of the show,” Marie said. “After my senior showcase in college, I had the opportunity of being introduced to the creative team, and from that point on, I was able to be part of auditions for various productions. By that point, I'd been auditioning for 'SIX' for about three years before I got my shot of being in the show. It's been a blessing, and I definitely feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be.”
“My story's actually somewhat like Terica's. I was introduced to the cast album around 2018 or 2019 and it was unlike anything I'd ever heard before because it's a show where you get to be in a musical AND be a pop star at the same time,” Perez added. “I knew I wanted to be one of the Queens – I wasn't sure which one, but I knew this show was something I wanted to do. I'd been auditioning for the show since 2019, and I finally got into the room in 2021, went through several rounds of auditions and workshops and everything else, and I finally got my shot in 2022.”
Both Marie and Perez added the creative/rehearsal process was akin to being back in school.
“The creative team sent us a bunch of different materials for us to look at, and it was almost like I was back in college about to start a class and all of that. We got recommendations for books, we got sent a recommendation for a documentary to view, and I also watched the Starz limited series 'The Spanish Princess,' which is a portrayal of Catherine of Aragon's life early on and her early days in England,” Perez said. “It was interesting to see a portrayal of her marriage when it was good, because her and Henry VII did have a good marriage early on. We also all did some research as far as the musical influences for the different Queens, which was also really interesting – my character is modelled after a mixture of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Hudson, one of the other queens is reminiscent of Adele, Sia, and Celine Dion, and another is inspired by Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé, among many others.”
“We also all put together short presentations for each other to help us get to know our characters and each other, which was also really neat because there was a lot of interconnectedness among these ladies,” Marie added. “In some ways, it was like being in school again and giving a book report to everyone else. It was truly a different type of rehearsal process than what I've done before, and there was so much to learn. The show that's known today is truly because of all the rehearsal and research that was done.”
The mashup of history and pop culture and music was also very appealing, Marie and Perez agreed.
“I'm a singer-songwriter myself, and while I love musical theatre, that's where my passion lies,” Marie said. “So to be able to a recording artist while doing what I went to school for is the best of all worlds because this show truly offered me a way to do that. So that mashup was definitely part of the appeal, for sure.”
“I would agree with that, because I don't typically do the classical/traditional musical theatre. What pulled me to 'SIX' was the music and the fact that I could put on the album and the music was akin to what you might hear on the radio,” Perez added. “I love the merging of pop culture and pop sound with musical theatre and the ability to execute both. I'm not electing to be in a show like 'Guys & Dolls' or something in that vein, I want to be in the new/crazy stuff. Something I'm noticing with a lot of newer shows is they're being developed and composers by singer-songwriters – for example, there's 'The Notebook' by Ingrid Michaelson and the new 'The Great Gatsby' musical by Florence & The Machine. There's this influx of artists writing to make a soundtrack of a musical and make it sound like something you'd hear on the radio, so it's moving from one sound to another.”
Perez said there are many enjoyable aspects to being part of the show.
“I like how it's a very fun show with so much energy. I've been doing this show for the past nine or 10 months now, and I still get jitters because care so much about the show and making it amazing for the audience,” Perez added. “A lot of times, people have come into the show with the mindset of it being more bubblegum/commercial theatre, and I truly believe in the message of the show, which is how we're stronger together when we're not competing against each other, and how we have to lift each other up. It's hard not to love, and it's easy to stay invested in the story.”
Overall, Perez and Marie said, they hope audiences have a good time at the show.
“I would say come to have a good time, because this show has a place for everyone,” Perez said. “I know sometimes people see the ad and someone's grandpa might say 'Ehh, I don't know if I want to go see that,' but we've had so many fathers hesitantly bring their daughters and then hear afterward how much they enjoyed the show and now their daughter(s) want to go into musical theatre themselves or do stage productions. Just come out and see the show, you will NOT be disappointed!”