How Six Star Storm Lever Lost a Role But Found Her Way to Broadway | Playbill

How Did I Get Here How Six Star Storm Lever Lost a Role But Found Her Way to Broadway

The actor is currently playing Anne Boleyn in the international hit musical at the Lena Horne Theatre.

Graphic by Vi Dang

Storm Lever, who made her Broadway debut as "Duckling" Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, is back on the Main Stem in the international hit musical Six at the Lena Horne Theatre.

Lever plays Anne Boleyn in Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow's Tony-nominated musical about the six Renaissance women who married King Henry VIII. The Broadway company also currently features Khaila Wilcoxon as Catherine of Aragon, Jasmine Forsberg as Jane Seymour, Olivia Donalson as Anna of Cleves, Didi Romero as Katherine Howard, and Gabriela Carrillo as Catherine Parr plus alternates Wesley Carpenter and Sierra Fermin.

In addition to playing Dorothy at City Center in Wringer, Lever has performed in theatres all around the country, including Sheila in Hair and Polexia in Almost Famous at The Old Globe, Wendy in Fly at La Jolla Playhouse, Savannah in Freaky Friday at the Signature Theatre, and Emotional Creature at Berkeley Rep. She was also seen in the film No One Called Ahead.

In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Lever reveals the two people who are her most loyal fans and why it's important not to compare one's career trajectory to anyone else.

Storm Lever, Olivia Donalson, Khaila Wilcoxon, Jasmine Forsberg, Didi Romero, and Gabriela Carrillo in Six Joan Marcus

Where did you train/study?
Storm Lever: The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor standout?
It would be unfair to single out one particular teacher. I only have the best experience to report back from going to Michigan. All of my teachers were masters in their respective fields and took the time to meet me where I was at in my development as an artist. From my acting teacher Mark Madama, who spent countless hours with me in his office asking me questions and challenging my perspective to help me grow into an inquisitive thinker; to Brent Wagner, the head of the program whose passion for the Golden Age musical theatre and vaudeville helped me fall even deeper in love with the art form and gain a well-rounded perspective for how the landscape of musical theatre has shifted and how it was established; to Cynthia Westphal, who helped shaped my vocal sound and helped me honor my voice while talking practically about how it can adapt to different shows. Each teacher took the time not only get to know me as an artist but helped me feel seen as a person.

What are the challenges and/or rewards of replacing in a Broadway show?
We are very lucky to be in Six, where, with its success, the team still trusts their material and show enough to encourage individuality. The blocking, of course, is set, but how we find ourselves there and the rhythm of our show is really set by each group. And since we have the great fortune of having worked together on tour for so long, we are simply getting to expand and play with a familiar, familial rhythm that we built together.

Do you have a favorite moment in Six for Anne Boleyn? What makes that moment/part of the musical so special?
She has some of the best lines in the show, in my humble opinion, so second to getting to lovingly read my fellow queens for filth with a cheeky nod, I think singing “I Don’t Need Your Love” out into the house is one of my most cherished moments from the show. We get to declare this empowering sentiment night after night to anyone who has ever made us feel small and unworthy.

LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, and Storm Lever in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Joan Marcus

Can you share a memory about your first night on a Broadway stage?
My Broadway debut was Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, and I’ll never forget during the climactic song where Donna Summer becomes the disco icon. I played Donna, and we were raised above the stage on a lift, spotlight in my eye, and the only thing I can make out in the audience are my parents sitting directly in front of me—this will forever be my "I’ve made it" moment.

And, during our opening of Six on Broadway, I was also able to spot my parents yet again, proving time and time again no matter where I go, I’ll always be able to come back to them. They’ll always be there.

Tell me about a time you almost gave up but didn’t.
One of my first Equity gigs out of school was a show called Freaky Friday. I was cast as one of the principal roles: Savannah, the mean girl at the high school. After premiering the show at the Signature Theatre, we were made aware that they were doing some casting changes for the remainder of the co-production. I was asked if I would be open to stepping down as Savannah and rejoin the company in an ensemble role. Naturally, upon receiving this news, I was devastated, but then was able to reframe this offer. It was validating that they still wanted to work with me, put me as Savannah on the Disney cast album, and it became abundantly clear that this wasn’t a question of my talent and more a question of my type, which is out of my control.

I had a choice. To accept the offer and watch another girl take over the role I had originated or, graciously, excuse myself and pursue other opportunities. I ultimately decided I was going to stay on with the production and take this as a lesson. I loved the team I was working with and loved the story we were telling. I ultimately deciding being a part of the story and being able to serve the show rather than seek to serve myself was going to be way more fulfilling.

Katie Ladner, Solea Pfeiffer, Casey Likes, Julia Cassandra, and Storm Lever in the 2019 production of Almost Famous at the Old Globe

What do you consider your big break?
This experience with Freaky Friday actually led to what I consider my big break. After agreeing to stay on with that show, that team attached to Freaky Friday really launched my career. I was so fortunate to work with the associate director, Amy Corcoran, again helping to develop a new show. The director, Christopher Ashley, invited me back multiple times to work at the theatre he’s the artistic director of, La Jolla Playhouse. (Who, special shout-out, was also generous enough to provide housing to our company after our show closed due to the pandemic during quarantine.) The choreographer, Sergio Trujillo, ended up choreographing me in my Broadway debut! And, Tom Kitt cast me in the Broadway-bound, out-of-town tryout of Almost Famous!

I fully believe all of these incredible, life-changing opportunities came from that decision to stay on with Freaky Friday and take in the lesson that the shows we work on are bigger than ourselves.

What advice would you give your younger self or anyone starting out?
It’s the same advice I was given by a professor in college, Brent Wagner. You can’t move forward if you are looking to the side.

The opportunities in this industry are not linear, so you can’t compare yourself to the person next to you. All of our paths are going to look vastly different. And, it’s important as you make your way, you don’t let comparison be thief of your joy.

Photos: Six on Broadway Welcomes New Queens

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