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Six the Musical

Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

They say that history is written by the victors. Though the ill-fated wives of Henry VIII may not seem to come out on top in your average history textbook, Six The Musical proves that there are two sides to every story – and this time, it’s the women who are doing the talking in this show by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

Opening for another run in London’s West End, and buoyed by five Olivier Award nominations, Six the Musical is flying higher than ever before

It’s hard to call the show a musical; it feels more like a rock concert – with some Tudor-isms thrown in for good measure; no real running narrative is present, but it’s not really needed as the show just draws you in with the clever music and lyrics and not to forget- incredible vocals. In the same way that Hamilton portrays historical events through a modern viewpoint, Six brings the lute and laughter to the Six famous women.

Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, the concept is that all six wives, whether divorced, beheaded, died or survived all come together to share the misery of being married to the infamous King.  A competition emerges, with each Queen taking her turn to describe how she had it the worst through a song, while the other Queens provide backing vocals.

These six women are empowered and feisty, taking ownership of their own stories and delivering them much like a modern day pop album – a few big banging tunes, a slower ballad and finishing up with an energetic remix – which gets you on your feet!

Each of the six ladies donning platformed boots, corsets and fishnets, this punky feel contrasts with a barren stage housing only an all-female band: The Ladies in waiting. Despite the limited set, the production is clever in its use of tech to shift the staging up a little. Overall, this does work well – staging as a concert rather than a fully-fledged musical does help, of course.

Jarneia Richard-Noel’s Catherine of Aragon kicks it all off with an upbeat number that leaves us in no doubt what we can expect. Natalie Paris performs Jane Seymour’s power ballad with all the skill of world class leading lady, and Aimie Atkinson’s Katherine Howard packs a deeper message that leaves us wondering how much has changed in the last 500 years.

Maybe it’s the fact that Six doesn’t take itself, or it’s ‘her-storical’ retelling too seriously, it’s almost certain that Anne Boleyn (Millie O’Connell) never said “LOL” or that Anne of Cleves (Alexia McIntosh) ever described her portrait as a “profile pic”, but it’s these little furnishings that make Six and the six wives relatable in today’s world. By the time we reach the survivor, Catherine Parr (Maiya Quansah-Breed) we’ve learnt a more valuable lesson; each of these Queens achieved something in their own right, and it shouldn’t be their marriage for which they are remembered.

Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ
Photo by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

While SIX may be cloaked in silliness at times (“What hurts more than a broken heart?” asks Natalie Paris’ Jane Seymour, staking a claim for her story as the saddest. “A severed head,” retorts Millie O’Connell as Anne Boleyn), it makes some serious points about females being the victim and survival, showing that even 500 years later, there are still parallels to be found in the female experience.

As a musical experience, SIX the Musical knows its target audience well. Although simplistic, it is an entertaining and empowering boost that the male-dominated history books could do with knowing more about HER-Story. Both educational and entertaining, there’s no denying the power and passion in this bold, uplifting and magnificent production.

To book tickets or for more information see online or call the Box Office on 020 7836 8463.

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