Andrea Macasaet makes her Broadway debut as Anne Boleyn in ‘SIX’

Andrea Macasaet

SIX was supposed to premiere on March 12, 2020, the same day that Broadway went dark due to the looming global pandemic.

More than a year and a half later and the musical based on Henry VIII’s six wives and their stories will finally open at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 3, adding to the momentum of the reopening of Broadway shows.

Andrea Macasaet, a Filipino Canadian, is one of the six queens taking the stage as she plays the role of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife.

“It felt oddly familiar and new all at the same time,” she told the Asian Journal when she was asked about being back on the stage after the lockdown. “I am excited. Excited to perform and excited for people to come and witness the beauty that is SIX.”

The thespian born and raised in Winnipeg is making her Broadway debut with SIX.

“It’s a great story and it’s nothing like anybody’s ever seen before. I am so lucky to be one of the women on stage. It’s a very diverse cast,” she shared.

Running at 80 minutes without any intermission, SIX is like a cross between a concert and a musical and the numbers are carried equally by the six wives. Each one gets a big number to narrate her story from her own point of view.

Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard), Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon), Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn), Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves) and Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr) in SIX, written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss and directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage.Photo by Liz Lauren

The musical was written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, a couple of 22-year-old Brits who reimagined the six wives as popstars singing their hearts out. It premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017.

Macasaet found out about the news of the closure last year as she was getting ready in her apartment to leave for the theatre.

“The news of the shutdown didn’t really take effect on me until we learned that it would be extended past the initial two-week shutdown,” she reminisced. “Although the lockdown was tough on everyone, I was able to spend quality time with the people that I loved.”

Macasaet flew home after the second announcement of Broadway’s suspension being extended. She had the opportunity to teach while Broadway was closed.

“It was a joy to connect with people from all over the world,” she added. “Having the support of my family really helped me get through the year.”

Audition process

Macasaet recalled singing Stone Cold, a Demi Lovato song during her audition. The producers then asked her to sing a second song and she sang Beyonce’s Love on Top.

“I went into my audition and I was totally in my element,” she shared. She’s happy that they were specifically asked to sing pop songs, in fact, according to her, the producers specifically requested that no musical theater was sung.

She said she wanted to audition because she found the whole soundtrack “so catchy.”

“And it was music that I listened to regularly. You hear one song on the soundtrack and then you think it can be played on the radio? So I was an open book going into my audition,” she said. “And then I got Anne Boleyn for my callback. And she couldn’t have been more fitting.”

During their rehearsal process in Chicago, they had to make their own presentations of their respective queens so they had to research. They watched a couple of documentaries and read a couple of chapters from books specific to their roles and then they all had to present their queens for one another so that the others know what their respective characters went through.

“So it was nice to learn about her and just how inspiring, how determined she was,” she said.

The stories of Henry VIII’s six wives get reimagined in SIX, which will open this weekend at Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York.

Born to Sing

“My mom will tell you I’ve been singing ever since I was a baby,” she said laughing. “So when I was around six or seven, she started putting me into voice lessons and started entering me into karaoke competitions, local karaoke competitions. And I’ve been singing ever since.”

Macasaet ventured to the theater when she was in the fourth grade as she joined local theater productions. It was something that she had always loved doing and being an energetic kid, theater was her way to release her energy into singing, dancing, and acting.

Born to Cesar and Sylvia from Pasay and Batangas respectively, who both immigrated to Canada, Macasaet said she grew up in a traditional immigrant Filipino family.

“I was singing in everybody’s debuts, I was singing in everybody’s weddings, Lola’s and Lolo’s anniversaries. I was the designated one to go and entertain, even during karaoke nights,” she said. “And, you know, it brings so much, music brings so much joy to my family. And that’s what I pride myself on, I go home, and I love to sing for my family and love to see their faces light up.”

“And for them to now be able to come to New York and witness me on the stage of this magnitude. It just makes it you know, possible for other Filipino families who have aspiring singers, artistas, or whoever to support their niece, son, their daughter, their nephew, to pursue because it can actually happen, as long as they’re getting the support and the love,” she added.

Macasaet said she used to sing a lot of Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, and Celine Dion songs.

“My mom loved it when I sang all those big hitters, powerful songs, big bangers. So I was always singing those songs growing up, but my musical range, I have everything from Whitney Houston to Ariana Grande to ACDC in my repertoire of music that inspires me and helps me be creative,” she said.

Broadway Debut

“To have my Broadway career start at that moment was just, ‘Oh, man!’, it was like a dream come true. I couldn’t even imagine having it start any other way than how it did because it was exhilarating. And just propelled me into what it is now,” Macasaet shared.

The 27-year-old actor is referring to the 2020 Broadway Con where fans of the show came in droves to support their segment, even though by then they have not officially opened yet.

Andrea Macasaet shows the full-page New York Times feature on SIX, a couple of days before the musical was set to premiere on March 12, 2020.
AJPress photo by Momar G. Visaya

In her short stint so far, Macasaet said she has already learned a lot, and on top of that list is hard work.

“I think what I can say is that nothing stops when you get to Broadway. In fact, it’s hard. It’s hard work,” she explained. “And it’s hard work to stay disciplined, to make sure that your body’s okay, to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, physically. That should always be a priority.”

A lifelong fan of musicals, Macasaet said she loved watching Wizard of Oz and Annie when she was growing up.

“I was also drawn to Disney growing up. So Mulan was always someone that I love because she looked like me. And it was hard because, you know, you grow up as a Filipino little girl and you don’t see people who look like you out in the theater world or Disney,” she said. “And now times are changing. And now I’m falling in love with more musicals because of the opportunities that they present and are not limited anymore. And we still have, like, ways to go with it.”

She enjoyed watching Hadestown last year and mentioned she was very happy to see Filipino American actor Eva Noblezada among the principal cast members of the show.

For young Filipino Americans who might want to consider a career on Broadway, Macasaet’s message is simple: don’t limit yourself and work hard.

“Be kind to everybody around you. And you know, be patient. Trust that God, the universe will provide for you. You’re not alone. People struggle in this industry, and it’s hard, it’s hard. You have to be okay with rejection. But that should propel you even more for the next opportunity. Work hard and be kind and be patient because it will happen,” she said.

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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