All She Wants to Do: An Interview with Courtney Mack

Courtney Mack as Katherine Howard in the North American Aragon Tour of SIX (Photo by Patrick Gray)

SIX, the Musical
July 12-23, 2023
Paramount Theatre
Get tickets and more information here.

Six, the Musical tells the story of the six wives of Henry VIII. Reimagined so the wives have a chance to tell their tales from their perspectives, the musical explores the different roles of women in a tumultuous time of history, and married to one of the most influential monarchs in the world. Courtney Mack plays the role of the fifth wife Katherine Howard, a young teenager forced to marry the much older King of England.

Eric Andrews-Katz:  Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?
Courtney Mack: I think when I was in high school, it was my oldest sister, Megan. She danced and sang, and did the high school musicals, and played softball. I wanted to do all those things. I didn’t dance because I was too shy. I didn’t start to sing until high school choir. My sister got me into it. She’s a doctor now, and not into theatre. I think I always had a more artsy, creative mind. I always learned differently than her. Music and art always clicked for me. I watched all the award shows, and I loved watching the performers on the Tony awards. I’d watch and say, “I want to do that”.

Andrews-Katz: Your bio states that you are shy. How did you overcome that for the stage?
Mack: I don’t know. I think just doing it. Being a different character is why I fell in love with the stage. That way I didn’t have to be myself. I know that sounds horrible, but tapping into different characters (that are still part of me) helps, especially when I get to play in larger scopes. I always was super shy. I never wanted to sing in front of people. I was always so nervous. Now I have a hard time singing in front of a small group of people. I do just fine in a 2900 seat theatre, which is odd. I never gave up on it and had fun with it. I found theatre and they were my type of people being goofy and weird and I fell into it. I’m still very much an introvert.

Andrews-Katz: You were in the original Broadway cast of SIX, the musical. Can you take us through the audition process for that experience?
Mine was a little different from most people. I was performing on a cruise ship and I got a message from Roberta Duchak (the musical’s associate director) who reached out. At that point, I wasn’t sure what they were looking for – replacement or actual casting. I knew SIX was happening (I lived in Chicago) so when she [Duchak] reached out, I went to my agent and asked to be submitted for the show. I submitted 13 videos and I think I submitted for Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn, and then Katherine Howard. I had to submit dance videos. We recorded them in the storage area on the ship. Once I got off the ship (it was a transatlantic cruise, New York – Europe) I flew back to NY and had to do another audition. I ultimately got very sick at the end of the cruise. I auditioned for them a week later. I auditioned for Katherine Howard and learned the dance. I saw the first preview in Chicago the day before I auditioned. The rest is history.

Andrews-Katz: Have there been any kind of changes to the show from the London production to the Broadway opening?
Mack: I think there were some, although I can’t say for certain because I wasn’t part of the UK cast. I know there were certain changes from Chicago (the pre-Broadway production) before it went to Broadway. There was new choreography added, and the dialogue tweaked. For the most part it stayed pretty similar. I remember the ending – the “MegaMix”. The Choreography changed for that.

Andrews-Katz: Since you are playing a true person, how much research did you do for the role of Katherine Howard?
Mack: When I first joined the Chicago cast, the creative team wanted us to read a chapter on our queen, and watch a PBS special on the Tudors. We had to get the essence of who they were ultimately, but we also bring our own essence to each role. It helped to give us all a direction to start. We had to do some research in the beginning, and then we each developed our own.

Andrews-Katz: The Queens in SIX are influenced by different pop-divas. Which one(s) influence your own interpretation of Katherine Howard?
Mack: I think mine is a mix. She leans more to Brittney Spears. There is also a little Demi Lovato in there, too. I think it was always both Brittney and Ariana Grande in looks. When I first learned the show, I saw my song was long and with the different choruses in style. I had an associate director who told me to take each verse differently. The first chorus is “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and the second is “I’m a Slave 4 U” so for me that was a helpful hint on how the journey of the song was to go.

Andrews-Katz: Katherine Howard was a teenager when she married the 49-year-old Henry VIII. How typical was this of the times?
Mack: I think it was pretty typical. I’m not an expert on the subject, but from my understanding Henry was the King and he got whatever he wanted. She happened to be on his radar and he wanted her.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think that Katherine Howard was a victim of abuse from those around her, or was she a sexually liberated woman in times that didn’t appreciate that kind of freedom?
Mack: I think it’s tough. We truly don’t know. In my opinion, I think she was abused. Being that young and in that time period, where people were not as open with sex as they are now, I think she was a very naïve, beautiful young woman. She got taken advantage of by those around her. Someone was nice to her, and she (maybe) thought, “Oh someone is showing me love” and, yet it was abuse. I think she was being abused as a young child.

The North American SIX Aragon Tour. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Andrews-Katz: How would Katherine Howard fit into the “ME-TOO” movement of today?
Mack: I hope she would be the leader or in charge of it. One of them at least. I think, it’s a really a great question. I think she (I hope) would be a part of it. Maybe she knows, maybe she doesn’t, but from my perspective the writing in this show gave us insight to all these queens lives, and on how they were or might have been at that time. I think the story of ‘K. Howard’ has helped people – especially young women – because they resonate with the song and character. I think she is helping in a way by having her story brought to life.

Andrews-Katz: What are your personal thoughts about the life of Katherine Howard? What did you learn from this role, and how does it apply to your life?
Mack: That’s a great question, too. No one has ever asked me that before. I think her life was very sad. It was very short lived. I think she didn’t know, so naïve and young. She didn’t know that the things that were happening to her were bad. I think maybe the saddest thing about that story is how it is still relevant today, and how young kids are being abused still. I think there’s more of an understanding about sex now, and there’s more people talking about it than in that time period. I think that’s the saddest thing that it is still happening to young kids, and adults. Abuse is still happening. I think it’s frustrating. When I do this show and when I sing her songs, (I’ve noticed it more just recently) that at the very end of the song, I hear people laugh. It’s not the “uncomfortable” laugh, but an amused laugh. It makes me mad to the core. I think “You don’t get it”. There are people that still think it’s funny. That bothers me.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of limitations – what would it be and why that role?
Mack: Wow! That’s so hard. I feel like if you asked me that when I was in college, I would have had an answer. But I’m such a bad musical theatre person, I don’t know. Part of me feels like I’ve played the roles, like Veronica in Heathers. I don’t know – it’s a hard question. I don’t have a “favorite show/role” of all time. I have no idea. I’ve always said that I wanted to be in shows like “The Little Mermaid” or some of the Disney musicals. But I would be fine if I played a rock or jelly fish. There are so many great shows and complex characters.

Courtney Mack appeared in Six, the Musical on Broadway. She is currently touring as Henry VIII’s 5th wife, Katherine Howard. The Tony Award winning musical Six plays at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre July 12 – 23, 2023. Get tickets and more information here.

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at:

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