Six: The Musical Fit For Royalty

photo credit: ©Joan Marcus

A night at the theater is good. A night at the theater with your best friend is even better. A night at the theater with your best friend watching SIX – a musical about six women who find their power by joining together – is unmatched. And unmatched it was as we were ushered to our seats in the Orchestra section. The audience chatter died down as the first notes from the band started to ring through the air. Only a few seconds later and one, two, three, four, five, six women appeared on stage.

photo credit: ©Joan Marcus

Six women, six souls, six marriages to the same man, Henry VIII. The divorced (Catherine of Aragon portrayed by Hailee Kaleem Wright), beheaded (Anne Boleyn portrayed by Leandra Ellis-Gaston), died (Jane Seymour portrayed by Bella Coppolla), divorced (Anne of Cleves portrayed by Nasia Thomas), beheaded (Katherine Howard portrayed by Zoe Jensen), and survived (Catherine Parr portrayed by Taylor Iman Jones). Throughout this 80-minute musical, these queens took audience members on a journey of laughter, sorrow, empowerment and unity.

Going beyond the sparkly, elaborate outfits and belting vocals, I was able to chat with the beheaded queens:

Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard are played by Leandra Ellis-Gaston and Zoe Jensen, respectively. Both are buoyant and happy-go-lucky women who remind me of the Disney princesses I saw as a little girl with their mega-watt smiles and gleaming energy.

I had the privilege of getting to know Leandra and Zoe and of interviewing them about their roles, hopes, and experiences being in SIX.

Me: How did you both embody your queens while auditioning, and how has that evolved through rehearsals, being around the other queens, and performing night after night?

Zoe: There was a UK run of SIX, with iconic people performing before us, so I listened to the recording of them; then once I learned the material, I made it my own to bring my own energy. I will be infusing myself into this more sensual and coy role and will make it with a Zoe flare.

Leandra: I never listened to SIX before the audition, so I went into finding my queen inspiration from my jukebox theater experience. I pulled my previous characters of Tina and Carole King into it and added my own Leandra twist. We put ourselves into the center of the role, so for my own Queen, I went the route of Nicki Minaj and PINK for inspiration for my queen. It was truly an experience of learning how to embody Anne Boleyn.

Me: Taking it back to you being little girls of color, what do you think when you see girls like you in the audience, and what would you like to say to them?

Leandra: Between all the queens, people dress most like our characters, Anne Boleyn and Kat. This last weekend a little black girl dressed like Boleyn. It was magical to witness her. She came to see a black Boleyn specifically in box braids. I was ecstatic that I have that type of influence. To those little girls: you can do it too. You can do anything you want to do. Anything you are possible of dreaming of, you can do it! We are SIX WOMEN!!! We are dressed as powerful women who took back control of their narrative in the history books.

Zoe: We are characters standing in our power and we exist together in a production about female empowerment. I love that I see little girls that are seen by my girls while I’m on stage. I am half Asian and White and want to share that story with fans. I like to promote there’s a place for everyone, take up your space, and your experience.

Me: Your queens both lost their heads because of flirtation and sexual relationships with other men, though Henry does the same, how do you think this is reflected or expressed in our modern day?

Zoe: Society loves to blame women, people love our queens because they say screw you to Henry.They didn’t do anything, so they both rebelled against their stories and embraced how they truly are.

Leandra: Just speaking your mind was seen as treason back then. Both of our queens were conscious of their power, especially my queen. She’s the reason the whole religion changed. She knew she had power in a position that didn’t seem powerful, and she wanted what was best for herself. She wanted to make sure her family had what they needed. If someone had power over their bodies, society shames that. Politics in the USA is very sensitive and SIX is a place to reflect our own society in terms of women’s rights. I hope that women stand in their power, and that men listen to SIX and other women’s stories.

Me to Leandra: Your favorite silliest moment you get to portray in character?

photo credit: ©Joan Marcus

Leandra: I’m someone who speaks my mind and I am very quick-witted. I’m silly and love to have fun, the head cheerleader is me! My favorite silliest moment, I have so much range to do in my song, I can just talk to the girls or the audience. My favorite line has to be: “Everybody knows that Jane can’t dance”. I’m silly 24/7 on the stage. I work with five superstars every night, and we all win in the end. I am blown away by the amount of talent! Zoe pops around on the stage, as well. We are the shady queens who bring comedic relief, our lighthearted spirits make our roles even more funny!!

Zoe: Leandra is captivating and charming. When I watch her perform, I look up and see a sparkle. She is one of the humblest people I know!

Me to Zoe: Your character is a survivor of rape and sexual abuse, yet she gives a charming and bubblegum pop start which descends into an emotional performance. How do you get to that very vulnerable place with your character?

photo credit: ©Joan Marcus

Zoe: It’s one of the trickiest parts of the show for me to perform every night. There are people at the stage door that share their stories after every performance. I feel a need to do them justice so my number one rule is to not overact. I am not going to force myself into the caricature of the role I’m presenting so no forced crying. I visualize the feelings of betrayal towards the audience, since they watch Kat descending into this horrible and violating situation on stage. Kat gets tossed around and I visualize being thrown around, and trying to get my balance but I simply can’t. There’s too much going on for me to overthink about myself as an actress in those moments.

Me: Who are your queens of today?

Leandra: Oprah is my queen, she is like the queen of the USA. I am also inspired by friends and the people I work with. Real life interaction is how I know if someone is worthy of being crowned as a queen in my eyes. They influence me to be a better person in my life and I’m so grateful for that!

Zoe: Meeting queens I don’t even know. Queens who are making efforts to build up their communities and trying to make change for the better of the lives of others.

Me: Last question… big three?

Zoe: Libra everything! Plus my Venus as well.

Leandra: Aries Rising, Capricorn Sun, Gemini Moon. I have six planets in capricorn so it’s a massive influence in my chart.


My time interviewing Leandra and Zoe, two gracious and radiant women who are making waves in the world of theater, was such a delightful experience. Catch Zoe, Leandra, and other queens at SIX on Broadway!

photo credit: ©Joan Marcus


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