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This article was published 11/10/2019 (509 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As Ferris Bueller once observed: Life moves pretty fast.
And so it has for Winnipeg performer Andrea Macasaet, a Garden City Collegiate graduate who has in the past year found herself fast-tracking all the way to Broadway with a show that itself sparked to life just two summers ago at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Six, by Cambridge grads Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss (who like Macasaet are in their mid-20s) is a pop-infused history of the six wives of Henry VIII. Staged along the lines of a pop singing competition, it has an all-female cast accompanied by an all-female band.
Macasaet plays arguably the most romantic and certainly the most romanticized spouse: Anne Boleyn, the ruthless monarch’s second wife who was ultimately beheaded on orders from her husband. (See the movies Anne of the Thousand Days or the BBC series The Six Wives of Henry VIII). Her landing the role in the show has resulted in a whirlwind performance schedule beyond its U.K. roots.
"After America got wind of it, they decided to present it as a North American première with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and (Edmonton’s) Citadel Theatre," says Macasaet.
The Chicago run commenced in mid-May and was extended twice into August. It was followed by a month-long run at Boston’s American Repertory Theater through September.
Macasaet is currently taking a break at home in Winnipeg prior to joining the show at the Citadel in November.
"Then we are in Minnesota for a month and then we open on Broadway," Macasaet says breathlessly. The open-ended New York run will debut in the 1,000-seat Brooks Atkinson Theatre in February.
Macasaet’s impending Broadway debut is a delight — but not necessarily a surprise — to two Winnipeg theatre artists who helped her on her way. Kayla Gordon and Brenda Gorlick are respectively the artistic director and associate artistic director of Winnipeg Studio Theatre, the company that cast Macasaet in her first professional productions, including Avenue Q and Heathers: The Musical.
"She’s one of those exceptional girls who has that whole ‘It’ factor," says Gordon. "You know, she started in (Gorlick’s StudioWorks Academy) program when she was 14. There was something about her voice, like: Whoa. She was just so delightful, too."
"She had done a summer camp with the StudioWorks program and we kind of immediately knew this girl had chops for days," recalls Gorlick. "She was one of those kids that just had a special voice from the get-go. And she has such a wide range of abilities now.
"She’s always had the voice, but she is an actor, she’s a comedienne, she’s a character. It’s quite phenomenal," says Gorlick. "She owns the stage."
Macasaet is the latest in a string of Winnipeg performers who have found their way to Broadway, a lineage that goes back to Len Cariou and continues to this day with the likes of Samantha Hill (Les Misérables) and Nyk Bielak (The Book of Mormon).
"It’s just a phenomenon that I’ve seen in the last seven or eight years," Gordon says. "It’s pretty exciting."
Gordon says it’s always a combination of talent and luck to get to perform on the Great White Way.
"I think it’s her incredible talent that got her the part in (Six) and then a little bit of luck that the show is so good," she says. "We’re so thrilled for her."
The role of Anne Boleyn is a perfect fit for the diminutive Macasaet because, though Boleyn had a tragic ending, her presence is "joyful" in the musical, the actor says.
"She’s full of this energy that you can’t escape from," she says. "It’s been really fun to play her every night and celebrate her in such a cool light. She’s not a villain. She’s not a witch. She’s actually a really strong woman who knows who she is."
The music of Six is rooted in contemporary female pop, and that is very much in the wheelhouse of Macasaet, an admitted veteran of karaoke competitions from an early age.
"I’ve always found so much passion in belting Whitney Houston songs and Beyoncé songs," she says. "So it was so in my realm and aligns with all my interests and passions.
Her Anne Boleyn is inspired by various artists: "A little bit of Avril Lavigne, a little bit of Billie Eilish, there might even be a teeny bit of Nicki Minaj in her."
Macasaet acknowledges the debt she owes to her parents for realizing this particular dream.
"My mom and dad actually emigrated to Winnipeg about 40 years ago from the Philippines and they supported my sister and I throughout all of our endeavours and whatever our passions were," she says. "They were there for every soccer game and every play recital."
Keeping tabs on your kids’ passions can get expensive, she acknowledges, when you’re kid is performing all over the continent.
"My family keeps an eye on all the airfare deals."
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.