( Photo by Joan Marcus©2020)
Pictured: Ladies In Waiting— Front, l-r: Elena Bonomo (Drums), Kimi Hayes (Guitar), Back l-r: Michelle Osbourne (Bass), Julia Schade (Conductor/Keyboard)
Meeting Six The Musicals’s Julia Schade in a Manhattan Starbucks on a Saturday between shows was awe-inspiring. That was not only just because of her talent, although that was the original reason “Un-Block The Music” contacted her, but because of her inspirational story. While she has been a musician all of her life, at 43 years old she became Musical Director (MD) on her first Broadway show! “ I got the chance to have a whole new career!,” she said.
If you don’t know Six The Musical, it is a retelling of the lives of King Henry the VIII’s wives. It is “their side” of the story and is presented as a pop concert with the Queens singing their stories to see who suffered the most as Henry’s wife. The “winner” will become the group’s lead singer. In Six, the band is on the stage, so Julia is listed in the Playbill as the character Joan as well as the MD. “I really feel like I am part of something special,” Julia said.
During this pandemic, the media (“Un-Block The Music” included) has talked a lot about female representation in entertainment. We’ve begun to talk about mental health, although certainly not enough. What makes Julia so special is that not only did she talk to me about her path to Broadway, but she talked to me about how anxiety and depression could have deprived us all of her talent. She talked about hitting rock-bottom and about her self-doubt. Did she really deserve to be on Broadway? More than deserving. With an amazing strong network of family and friends, she recovered after an unsuccessful suicide attempt a while back. And the good news is…she now knows her value, personally and professionally, and she wants to help other women see their potential as well.
In Six, there is the song sung by Henry’s wife #5 Katherine Howard. Called “All You Wanna Do,” the song talks about being viewed only as a sex object and having no other recognized worth. “When you are 13, you start to be sexualized and it makes you feel cool,” said Julia. Then perhaps a few years later, you may realize that is not how you want to be perceived. “I really identify with the song. And, now, I have a platform to help young women understand they have a purpose beyond that sexuality.”
And, while Julia may not have always had faith in herself, her family and friends helped with her personal confidence and one particular incident played a big part in gaining professional self-confidence as well. Six was supposed to open on March 12, 2020 …the day Broadway shutdown. After days and months of updates and the conjecture of New York’s then Governor Cuomo, it finally came back in September 2020. Excitement definitely filled the theater, but much to Julia’s horror, her click track programming failed, as did its back up.
A click track is a series of cues used to synchronize sound and lighting during a live performance. “I had to vocally coach the band and the actors through several songs. At first, I was scared, then I totally zenned out and knew I could handle it. We eventually had to stop the show and reset the system. We were down for 6 minutes! The Queens got off stage. The band, however had to stay up there! But, we did it!” and the next day everyone told Julia that her calmness made their anxiety go away. “I finally felt like a good leader, and any leftover self-doubt went away! Now I know I can handle anything thrown at me.”
Not only does Julia work Six eight shows a week, she also teaches master classes. “When a school asks me to teach a class, I will do it. I want other musicians to know they can succeed, and I want to tell them what it is really like to work on Broadway.” What is one of the most valuable pieces of advice that she offers? “Answer your phone even if you don’t recognize the number!” Before she was offered Six on Broadway, Julia played the audition callbacks for the show in Chicago. She got that request on the phone at 10 o’clock the night before!
Are you intrigued? “Un-Block The Music’s” upcoming book will of course offer more about Julia’s musical path to Broadway from her hometown in Illinois. However, she (and ultimately “I”) will share her personal growth as well. Just another little tidbit before I sign off for now…..Julia is a Reiki Master! Wow!
For more about Six, go to
For tickets go to: https://sixonbroadway.com/tickets.php
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