For Taylor Pearlstein, “SIX: The Musical” might just as easily be called “Half.”
That’s because Pearlstein, who is a member of the Tony Award-winning musical’s touring cast, is an alternate/understudy for not one, not two, but three of Henry VIII’s six wives.
The actress covers the roles of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. And while it might seem difficult to prepare for three roles — each of which she must be ready to play at any given performance — Pearlstein said it hasn’t proved too challenging.
“It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be,” she said. “We had a really extensive and thorough rehearsal process, and we continue to rehearse every so often. So, we get the chance to brush up quite frequently, and I have really elaborate notes of my own.”
The production, Pearlstein said, has excellent resources for the cast, including a “great dance captain,” ensuring that the actress is ready to take the stage as any of Henry VIII’s unlucky spouses with as little as an hour’s notice.
“SIX: The Musical” will run from March 14-19 at the Benedum Center.
Pearlstein, a New York-based actress, said that she’s taken the stage about 20 times since “SIX: The Musical” began touring in September.
“It’s fun to get to do the show,” she said. “Any opportunity I get, I’m thrilled.”
Born in Boston but raised in Seattle, Pearlstein received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona before moving to New York. The 27-year-old lives in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.
When she’s not on the road, the actor/musician is busy pursuing a career in pop music. In fact, Pearlstein said that she’s been writing songs longer than she’s been an actor — playing guitar and singing from a young age before transitioning to theater in her early high school years.
“I do pop-folk, indie folk music, and it’s been a really lovely complement to my journey as an actor,” she said. “It’s part of my artistry that gives me more agency than theater can at times.”
If working in the touring company of a hit Broadway show and releasing music on streaming services like Spotify weren’t enough, Pearlstein is also writing a musical.
“Wake You Up” is a story about friendship, grief and loss written in the style of pop music that she’s developing with her writing partner, Shelly Molly Flynn, she said. The musical is being workshopped in New York and was recently featured at Christopher Newport University’s music lab at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, Virginia.
Pearlstein, who said her Jewish identity is important to her, grew up with a Jewish father and a Christian mother.
“[Judaism’s] always been celebrated in my household,” she said. “We celebrated Jewish traditions and, as I have grown into my adult years, every year I appreciate more and more how important my Jewish identity is — not just for me, but as a person who can represent that to others on stage.”
Performing in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” was an opportunity to highlight the Jewish experience and cherish the traditions of her ancestors, Pearlstein recalled.
“I find it to be a big responsibility I have as an artist to uphold and highlight those traditions and protect them and continue to carry them on for the next generation,” she said.
It was in college that Pearlstein celebrated her bat mitzvah after diving deeper into her faith at Hillel.
She looks to another Jewish stage actor who has combined his faith and craft as her inspiration, she said.
“I really look up to Danny Bernstein,” she said. “He is an actor on stage and film and written some of the most iconic music in theater and film. He is someone whose career I would be over the moon to emulate.” PJC
David Rullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.