H-F Alum Takes the Big Stage

If you grew up in the Homewood-Flossmoor area, chances are you’re familiar with some of the many well-known stars that graduated from the district – famous rapper Juice Wrld, professional basketball player Kevin Dillard, and singer-songwriter Shawnna, to name a few.

Soon, another name will join that list: actress Joy Woods.

Woods participated in many extracurricular activities and honors programs during her time at H-F, such as dance, speech, the IB program, and most significantly, theater. The combination of her dance skills and her immensely broad vocal range often gave her lead roles in high school productions. 

After graduating from H-F in 2018, she moved to New York and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and completed her associate’s degree in two years. AMDA was ranked the best performing arts college in 2021 – according to the Department of Education – and many contemporary musical celebrities have begun their careers at AMDA, including Christopher Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Kyle Scatliffe

Since completing her associate’s degree, Woods has been auditioning consistently and landing many off-broadway roles in New York. Her most recent role was in the off-broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors as the lead role, Chiffon. 

However, being cast in the new musical Six is Woods’ first broadway experience. The show is held in Brooks Atkinson Theater in Times Square, New York, but starting on March 29, the production commences its North American tour right here in Chicago. 

Six is the hit musical written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss and tells the story of Henry VII’s six wives through a modern, pop-concert style. Woods plays the role of Catherine Parr, one of Henry VII’s ex-wives. 

The role of Catherine Parr was originally cast as actress Anna Uzele, who first made her Broadway debut with Once on this Island as Andrea. Uzele’s final performance in the role was on March 13, and Woods had her first broadway performance the next day. 

The production’s instant popularity once it hit Broadway was not only due to the bright, flashing lights and the glamorous costumes but also to the underlying themes of the musical. The writers and directors were not shy in including topics subject to feminism, abuse, and empowerment. One critic from the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Very much Hamilton-lite in its appropriation of an anachronistic pop vernacular and contemporary attitudes to re-examine history, this is also a spawn of the Time’s Up era in its mandatory reframing of a female-centric narrative separated from the male gaze.” 

Six is also adored by audiences for its frequent references to various female artists, such as Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, TLC, and the Spice Girls. These subtle but detectable hints often raved excitement from the crowd, resulting in a fanbase of young audiences not afraid to sing along with the catchy songs.

Being only in her early twenties, already having experience in such prestigious work is very impressive. This being only the beginning of her career, we look forward to seeing what else she does on the big stage.