Vicki Manser in SIX The Musical – Photo Credit: Danny With A Camera
Vicki Manser is currently treading the boards of the Arts Theatre London as an alternate extraordinaire in the global phenomenon that is SIX the Musical. Vicki is well known for her hot vocals and hilarious interpretations of sassy Queens Anne Boleyn and Anna of Cleves. Her varied and diverse musical theatre career also includes Swing in Bat Out of Hell (Dominion Theatre), u/s Carole King and Genie Klein in Beautiful the Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), u/s Rasa, Mrs Davies/Marsha, Peggy, Joyce and Gwen in Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre).
Vicki took some time out of her busy schedule to chat to us about the impact SIX has had on her, how she puts her own interpretation on the roles she covers and what she thinks of the Queendom.
Describe SIX in one sentence – Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived! I’m kidding, I’m kidding! My go to answer for this question is always – 75 minutes of pure genius!
You are currently playing the roles of alternate Anne Boleyn and Anna of Cleves (although you often cover others). How do you put your stamp on those roles and what makes your interpretation different? That is such a good question! I will always remember the first time I went on as Parr when Lucy (Moss) the writer was in watching. She saw me afterwards and basically gave me the green light to do what I wanted with the role to make it my own. She told me that my Parr was a completely different interpretation to what had been done before and that creatively she trusted me 100%. That was so nice for me because often in other shows, particularly when you’re covering you can do your version to a degree but you are limited creatively. That is the beauty of SIX; you don’t have to be a carbon copy of the person you are covering. During the rehearsal process I found it incredibly tricky to find my own version of Cleves, she was the most difficult because me and Lexi couldn’t be further apart. Her version of Cleves is just so iconic and if I tried to replicate that people would be laughing for all the wrong reasons! I am literally the least cool person ever. So from the get go the creative’s were very much about letting us finding our own version of the Queens and make them our own. I think all of the Queens have their own little Vicki stamp on them in some way or another which is great – I love it.
With the each of the SIX queens being real historical figures and also based on various pop stars is there a particular queen that resonates with you on a personal level? Ah it’s got to be Boleyn! Just her character and the way it’s written, she’s just so funny. I mean I’m not saying that I’m funny, but I just have a right laugh playing her because she’s just so entertaining. If people were to ask me which Queen I was most like, then it’s 100% Boleyn.
SIX has quickly become a theatrical phenomenon – what’s the magic ingredient behind the show’s success? Lucy and Toby’s writing. It’s just so clever; I’ve never seen a show that’s like this one. It’s so unique in the message that it sends and the fact it’s led by six strong women. Every single element comes down to how Lucy and Toby have written it. I just think they are geniuses.
When a show becomes such a success it’s inevitable that it will develop a fan base. SIX’s fans (the Queendom) are incredibly devoted to the show, how has that been for you? Absolutely incredible! There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing the fans are on this show. As an alternate, to be treated with the same love and support is unbelievable. Not a day goes by where I don’t receive a wonderful message from somebody saying lovely, lovely things and I’m not even the main cast! It still blows my mind how the fans are so loving of every single person in the cast because in other shows that just doesn’t happen. I think SIX is really setting an example to other shows about how to treat not just their main cast but their alternates as well. Right from the start they have really promoted the fact that their alternates or covers are on and that love spreads into the Queendom. It’s just amazing I am so grateful. The fans are AMAZING.
The Queendom absolutely loves a blooper, can you tell us about your worst / funniest on stage mishap? Obviously we are so used to doing the same thing every day so when the tiniest thing different happens we all find it way more hilarious than maybe we should, but here’s some of the more obvious ones… I forgot I was divorced in the Megasix once, so now before the curtain goes up, depending on which character I’m playing, I’m like divorced, divorced, divorced! I’ve also nearly face planted during the Megasix when I slipped on the confetti. Oh and how could I forget this one! Guys! I fell down the stairs! When I was Anna of Cleves, so I got up after my song all “oh yeah, guess you’re right, I probably won’t win then” went to walk down the stairs and FULL ON tripped. When I got up I ad-libbed a bit and was furiously thinking to myself come on Vic back to the script, back to the script! We all joke about it because whenever there is an anniversary of something to do with the Queens or Henry something always happens in the show. So either Anna of Cleves or Henry tripped me up that day! It was the anniversary of her death and she was there with me guys!
You will shortly be leaving SIX, what are the two key things that you will take away from your time with the show? Well limiting that to two is very, very difficult because this show has just been incredible. It’s allowed me to gain such support which has been lovely and people do look up to you which is so inspiring. I will always be grateful for the following that SIX has given me and I hope and pray they stay with me! I don’t want to be apart from them now. I think one of the biggest things I will take away is just the opportunity to perform in such an amazing show; there are just no words for it. I feel so lucky to be a tiny part of something that is actually taking over the world, because that’s the realness of it – its global baby!
Are you able to tell us about any future projects you have coming up & how you are preparing for life after SIX? I can’t tell you anything at the moment I’m afraid. I am sure you will all find out soon enough what I’ll be up to next. In the meantime, I’m going to be teaching at my college, Sharpe Academy which I’m really excited about and we’re opening a performing arts college in Harrow. I am super excited to just teach again for a while. I love being creative, I love choreographing and giving something back to people who want to get into the industry themselves. I’ll also get on the old Instagram and do some lives for you I’m sure.
You’ve played a range of diverse women over your career. Is there a common quality that you feel you’ve given to or taken from them? I think the main thing that all the female roles I’ve played and covered have in common is the fact that they have so much inner strength. Although they might not realise it at the beginning, when they do they don’t take any rubbish. That is definitely something that everyone can learn from and to also to know your self-worth. That is definitely something they’ve all had an element of; Rasa in Sunny Afternoon, Carole King and all of the Queens in SIX come to know and recognise their own self worth in the end. In terms of giving something of myself to my roles, that very much depends on the part but I will always try and find a bit of humour. I love having light and shade in the character because I don’t like to play them two dimensionally. It’s nice to try and find the humour within the dark moments and add to all those layers.
If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be? That is such a good question and I know exactly what it would be. I wish shows didn’t have to cast people with large followings in order to sell tickets. Don’t get me wrong if they’re the best person for the job then absolutely cast them. I also understand completely why the producers have to do it but it’s a very common thing now. Unfortunately to break into that bracket of securing roles without having a significant following is difficult. If there was a magic wand that meant the show would sell out regardless of the cast then that would be absolutely brilliant. That is another thing that I love about SIX, none of us particularly had a following before we were cast. The show is star and that’s really testament to how good it is. There isn’t any one person bringing in the audiences, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a following or not the show is incredible and that’s what’s important.
What was the last thing you saw at the theatre and what do you wish you had seen but missed? The last thing I saw at the theatre was Hamilton. Now I don’t know if it was just because I was a bit thick or maybe I should have brushed up on my American history before I went but I did not have a Scooby what was going on! I thought it looked sensational, the choreography was brilliant and my friend Elle was in it and she was bloody brilliant but I literally had no clue what was going on! I think I need to listen to the soundtrack again. I really want to see Waitress, and I know it’s still possible so I am really going to try and get to see that, I love the music in that show.
SIX The Musical is currently playing at the Arts Theatre, London and will shortly be embarking on a UK tour, as well as generally taking over the world.