Interview: Phoenix Jackson Mendoza of SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

Cast, creative, choreographers and carers and queens.

By: Nov. 25, 2022
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Interview: Phoenix Jackson Mendoza of SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

SIX THE MUSICAL is a runaway success. Starting as a side project for Cambridge University students Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow to be performed at Edinburgh Fringe, it has grown into a phenomenon that now resides on Broadway and the West End, not to mention its massive online presence: the soundtrack currently has over half a billion streams whilst the TikTok account has over three billion views. Perth is lucky enough to be the next stop on the Australian tour, and star Phoenix Jackson Mendoza stopped by to share her thoughts and insights into the show as well as her life.

SIX THE MUSICAL tells the story of the six wives of Henry VIII in a way that you won't have heard before, with each wife vying for the position of lead singer of the band, pitted off in a pop idol-esque competition to be judged on how wronged they were by their shared husband and their singing abilities. "And how awesome and witty they are!" interjects Jackson Mendoza. "Not everyone learns the story of 'the six,'" she continues, "And when they do it's almost always only in relation to Henry VIII. SIX seeks to build on that and show each of these women as amazing, powerful, and bold women each who should be more defined by their own actions than they are by their husband." SIX THE MUSICAL, in fact, is well known for taking what is traditionally HIStory and making it HERstory. "The theme and the message from the show is of empowerment," says Phoenix Jackson Mendoza. "But it doesn't speak only to the females in the audience. Everyone who sees the show can walk away with a smile on their face and the knowledge that they can be awesome empowered people too!"

Whilst the history of Phoenix Jackson Mendoza's character Catherine of Aragon speaks for itself, she knows that each wife has a story to tell. Catherine of Aragon was Henry's longest lasting wife, with their marriage lasting longer than the five others combined. Aragon also took a much more active role than expected, planning and overseeing a military campaign and actively running the queendom when Henry was away. Indeed, it is the breakdown of their marriage that began the process of establishing what we know today as the Church of England. "The fact is, I never knew any of that until I took the part," says Jackson Mendoza when reflecting on her character in the show. "It's another part of the story that the show really seeks to bring to the fore, and not only have people learn that each of these women were amazing but showing the empowerment and courage to tell the stories that are often overlooked." Whilst the lyrics of each song overtly tell a story, there's much to learn from scratching the surface. There's people that keep coming back to shows because each time they're finding something new, and even I find little bits in my own song or other songs that I hear differently or think of differently and all of a sudden it opens up a completely new meaning. The whole show is a journey and the journey doesn't end when the curtain goes down."

Interview: Phoenix Jackson Mendoza of SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

Finding herself on this sort of journey is hardly a coincidence for Phoenix Jackson Mendoza. Music and musical theater runs in her family, and despite attempts to escape it she knows she was inexorably drawn toward it. "I did other things; I have qualifications in law and accounting, but musical theater will always be a big part of me so there's no point trying to get away from that. It's hardly surprising, too; her mother is a musical theater performer, and her grandfather is a pianist, so music was always a part of her life. "It always surrounded me. Growing up there were times when my mother- a single mother- had to balance performing and caring for me, so I often went to the theater with her. I was always cared for and loved, and I grew a love for theater by growing up in seats and in green rooms, and by exploring front of stage and backstage when I could. I often find myself going trough the dances of Fame. No one ever taught them to me, but I spent so much time watching them in the 2010 Australian production." Whilst Phoenix is brimming with joy and connects deeply to the show- something evident throughout the whole interview- she also knows that just as the show is a journey, so is her career. "There's so much to find out about history, and about the other cast members in this show, but I'm learning a lot about myself too. We aim to leave each show being better people for it, and that's something we all want for the audience, too."

SIX THE MUSICAL is at Crown Theater in Perth for a limited season through December 18. Tickets and more information from SIX THE MUSICAL Australia.