The Fame Reporter interviewed sensational Australian performer, Vidya Makan starring in the highly anticipated new musical about Henry VIII’s wives – Six the musical! The show is playing in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House and will tour to Melbourne, Adelaide and Wellington!
Vidya is one of Australia’s most exciting and upcoming talents and is over the moon to be joining the original Australian cast of SIX the Musical as Catherine Parr. She is a composer, singer, actor and musician based in Melbourne, having recently starred as Dot/Marie in the Watch This production of Sunday In The Park With George.
A graduate of The Queensland Conservatorium’s BMus (Musical Theatre), Vidya’s credits include: Lady Capulet in Romeo And Juliet (Australian Shakespeare Company), Green Day’s American Idiot (Shake & Stir), Air Race (Arena Theatre Company), Merrily We Roll Along (Watch This) and Little Inez in Hairspray: The Arena Spectacular (Harvest Rain).
Her film roles include Maria Krish (lead role) in the feature film The Colour Of Darkness. As a composer, Vidya is currently working on My Home Too, a song cycle about Australia and home. Her debut full length musical Woman, inspired by the lives of bohemian artists Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe is also in development.
We talked to Vidya about how she connected to the historic character of Catherine Parr, her dreams roles, how Six the musical empowers women and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Vidya, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
My family always loved theatre and we went together to see shows from the time I was very young. I only started performing when I was 15 in my high school musical The Wiz, but I suppose what sparked my interest was the opportunity to tell stories within a sense of community.
What about ‘Six’ enticed you to want to be involved in it and what was your reaction when you found out you landed the role of Catherine Parr?
I was in absolute shock when my agent rang and told me I got the job! I then spent about 3 hours completely balling me eyes out, I was so overwhelmed! It really was a dream come true!
The first thing that enticed me about Six was actually Parr’s song, ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’; I fell in love with it the fist time I heard it.
It’s so cool I get to sing it 9 times a week now!
Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
Not really these days, I’m just really interested in being a part of great theatre! Growing up my dream role was always Nala in the Lion King… In saying that, I would LOVE the opportunity to play Bobby in Company, play any Sondheim character or to be in Hamilton.
How does the show portray what King Henry VIII’s wives endured and what do you love about this method of storytelling?
I LOVE that we get to tell the story from the point of view of the wives! History has painted these women through such an unfair and shallow narrative, because we only get taught what the patriarchy has always wanted us to know.
When you do more research, you find that there was so much more to these women than being the “dowdy nurse”, the “silly young girl”, the “doormat” or the “other woman”, just to name a few examples.
We get to find the power and strength in their actual stories, and hopefully, this method of storytelling makes the audience question the way they view any sort of history.
Please describe the music in the show for us?
The music in the show is so clever! The show is written to mimic a pop concert, and each queen is inspired by a different pop artist.
These range from Beyonce to Lily Allen to Adele to Lizzo to Alicia Keys… and more!
So there’s a huge range of music, and when you listen to the soundtrack, you really do feel like you’re listening to music you would hear on the radio!
What do you love about Catherine Parr’s narrative?
I love that she was this absolute pioneer for women’s rights. She was a writer herself, and actually the first woman in English history to publish books under her own name. Her character is used very cleverly in the show to shake things up, and I absolutely love embodying her spirit night after night!
I love that her character is such a great role model for young women of today.
When audiences come and see the show and learn about the way Parr defied stereotypes of her time. I think young women can leave the theatre thinking, “if Parr did it, then I can too!” And that is a very powerful thing.
What have you learned about yourself and society whilst performing in this show?
Wow, what a question! One thing I have learned is that there really is a lot of love in people, especially when the world tells us there isn’t.
The amount of support we have received from the queendom (fans of the show) is just insane! They are so ridiculously supportive of all of our differences.
I think when you set a precedent of respect and the notion that “real queens fix each others crowns”, its astounding how much generosity people have to give!
How do you think the song ‘I don’t need your love’ encapculates Parr as a woman in the 16th century?
I think the genius of Six is that it not only represents these specific women’s stories, but given the pop nature of the songs, they also encapsulate the stories of women around the world today.
‘ I Don’t Need You Love’ starts with this really heartbreaking story, moves into what Parr wished she could have said and then finishes with her claiming her story that the world never celebrated! I.e that she was so much more than just one of Henry’s wives.
So while all of these lyrics are true and accurate to her story in the 16th century, hopefully girls of today can listen and feel completely empowered by also relating to her story.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Hands down Nina Simone, Beyonce and Cynthia Erivo.
As you know, ‘Six’ surrounds the six women in history that were married to King Henry VIII. The show is a special circumstance as all the wives can ‘meet’ and share their own stories, has there been any sisterhood bonding on and off stage with this incredible cast of women?
So much so! This cast is really really special. We really are a sisterhood and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to work with these women day in and day out, and that goes beyond just the six of us, it includes the swings, the band, the backstage crew too! It’s a very, very special place to work.
Why do you think fans worldwide love this show and the style of this contemporary musical?
It is new and it’s written by young creatives! It’s just so relevant in every way; musically, its form, its themes…everything!
It’s truly something young people can relate to, no matter your demographic, because it is so “now!”
We love that you are multi-talented and are a composer in addition to being a killer performer. Can you tell us anything about your song cycle ‘My Home Too’ and the full length musical ‘Woman’ and what inspired them?
Would love to! My Home Too is a song cycle about the moments in our lives where our idea of ‘home’ is forced to shift. I’m really interested in writing for minority demographics, so on top of this, it is also sung by a bunch of voices that we perhaps are not used to hearing from on the commercial musical theatre stage, especially as ‘Australian characters’.
Woman is inspired by the true story of painters Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe, who were Bohemian artists at the turn of the 20th Century. Lili Elbe was one of the first recorded trans women to undergo sex reassignment surgery, and Gerda Wegener’s art was completely revolutionary in the way it portrayed the female in art. I’m just really inspired by their stories and can’t believe it’s not a musical already!
Have you had a chance to meet the creators Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow and talk about your character? If so, have they informed your performance of the role?
Yes! Lucy actually flew down to work with us, as she is not only the writer of the show, but also the co-director. She is also the youngest female to ever direct a Broadway show!
So I have to say, one of the highlights of my career was getting to work with her; and her insights have certainly informed my performance of the role!
Why should Australian audiences come along and see Six?
‘Six’ really is like nothing else and I can guarantee that audiences will definitely be able to see themselves represented on that stage in one way or another.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Travelling with my sister
Favourite mantra when you are down
“What would my sister do?”
Any secret talents
I can make my tongue fold three ways!
Savoury or Sweet
Sunday in the park with George
Dressing Room necessity
Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow
Can’t live without
Favourite Six song
I Don’t Need Your Love.
Place you want to travel to
Australian theatre scene
Undergoing a REVOLUTION
To write a broadway show
Where I met my people!
TV Show Binge
Finally, favourite thing about performing
That I get to escape the world and live someone else’s story 9 times a week. I have the best job in the world.
Thank-you Vidya for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for the Australian and New Zealand tour of Six the Musical!
Don’t miss out on the fan favourite powerful new contemporary musical about the legendary lives of Henry VIII’s six wives – get your tickets below!
MELBOURNE | COMEDY THEATRE
23 APR 2020 – 07 JUN 2020
ADELAIDE | HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE
11 JUN 2020 – 28 JUN 2020
WELLINGTON | THE OPERA HOUSE JULY 2020
09 JUL 2020 – 19 JUL 2020
All photos – Supplied