Fresh off performances in Mamma Mia and Aladdin, the 22-year-old Monsma became “obsessed” with the west-end production after watching footage online.
“I just wish I’d had the idea!” she laughs. “I think it’s very, very clever. I immediately became attached to Catherine Howard. She wears pink, that’s my favourite colour. I love her song, and I think she’s misunderstood and quite a sad character.”
The king’s fifth wife was just 16 or 17 years old when she married the 49-year-old monarch. She would be executed for treason less than 18 months later.
“Since she was 13 she was basically used and abused by people in power around her. I found sympathy in that – you hear about this young queen but she was basically abused and then killed for that.
“In her song, you don’t expect to feel for her – but in the end she realises she doesn’t want this life at all. But by then it’s too late.”
Chloe Zuel, fresh from lead roles in Ragtime and the Australian tour of West Side Story, takes on the role of Henry VIII’s first wife Catherine of Aragon. Anne Boleyn will be played by accomplished newcomer Kala Gare having just starred in Bright Star at Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel.
Loren Hunter stars as the loyal third wife Jane Seymour, and Anna of Cleves will be played by VCA graduate Kiana Daniele who made her professional debut only last year in Boy from Oz.
Vidya Makan stars as the empowering Catherine Parr, her previous roles include the Australian tour of Green Day’s American Idiot and Australian Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet.
Ms Monsma said the theme of the show allows us to look back on previous generations from a position of privilege and perhaps feel sympathy for those involved.
“It’s liberating to look back and give these women a voice,” she said. “It’s so inspiring to be able to share that message with the audience, regardless of gender. It’s not just about women’s rights, it’s about everyone’s rights.”
SIX premieres at the Sydney Opera House on January 4 ahead of a season at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne from April 23 and Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide from June 11.
Matt Bungard is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.