A triumph on the West End, SIX the Musical, now at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, reigns supreme with its pop concert vibe, bringing a modern take on the stories of the six wives of King Henry VIII as told from the wives’ perspective.
‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived’ is the fate of these six wives; however, there is more to discover about who they were, what their feelings might have been and the relationship they had with Henry VIII, in this fast paced, sassy, 75-minute production. With book, lyrics and music created in 2016 by Cambridge University students Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, this relatively new musical uses storytelling, wit and humour through modern music genres to connect with the audience in a fun and light-hearted laugh-out-loud way, as each queen competes against one another to vie for the crown of who suffered the most being married to Henry VIII.
Superbly cast, this production is graced with six leading ladies all triple threats — singing, acting and dancing. Each of them hold their own as they perform solos and also work together with sharp, choreographed dance moves and amazing vocals reminiscent of the all-female pop group Fifth Harmony and the Spice Girls. Each has their own unique personality characterised through their own style of song. Catherine of Aragon (Phoenix Jackson Mendoza) sets the tone of the show with her fierce and powerful song “No Way” that has Beyoncé vibes with a hip hop groove. In contrast, Anne Boleyn (Kala Gare) rocks the stage like early 2000s pop-punk artist Avril Lavigne. Her self-deprecating humour had the audience laughing out loud. The emotion filled power ballad “Heart of Stone” delivered by Jane Seymour (Loren Hunter) pulled at the heart strings with her powerful soaring vocal performance. Despite the struggles that Seymour faced, her-story is of a doting mother who loved not only her son but also King Henry VIII. As the competition continues, Anna of Cleves (Kiana Daniele) knows she won’t win so instead brags about how great her life is without a man in her gritty song, “Get Down”. A bold and fun performance with a catchy bass beat was too much for one lady in the audience who stood up and joined in with her own dance moves attracting resounding cheers. Katherine Howard (Chelsea Dawson) delivers a strong performance as the young and scandalous wife. Rounding out the show is Catherine Parr (Vidya Makan) with the song, “I Don’t Need Your Love”. Her exquisite vocals in this heart-felt ballad leads her to question why she can’t sing about her amazing accomplishments and tell her-story rather than being remembered as one of six women that Henry VIII married. With similarities to Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler in the musical Hamilton, they are both women who were married to powerful men, yet their own stories of how they changed society leaving an impactful legacy is overshadowed by their husband. Ultimately, the six women abandon the competition with the realisation that they don’t need Henry’s love to feel validated and go on to rewrite their histories in the song “Six”.
The rock concert staging separates this show from a typical musical with the six queens backed by a four-piece powerhouse all-female band aptly called ‘Ladies In Waiting’ led by Music Director Clare Healy. Just like a girl group, the six queens are centre stage the entire show. They bring energy in spades and rock bedazzled boots and shine brightly in striking coloured Tudor inspired outfits complete with a microphone holster that allows them to transition quickly into high energy dance breaks and back to vocals without missing a beat.
Receiving a thunderous standing ovation this entertaining, fun and empowering show will have you admiring the fighting spirits of these historical women and rocking out to its fantastic music soundtrack.
SIX the Musical is at the Theatre Royal Sydney until 1 October. Age guidance of 10+ years. For more information, visit www.sixthemmusical.com.au.
By Nicole Saleh of Dance Informa.