When these six dead queens turn into loud and sassy pop princesses they are truly six of the best.
With glitz glamour and glorious ability these wonderful women burst into the 21st Century retelling the stories of these tragic Tudor phenomena in an energetic, electrifying and high spirited 75 minutes of fabulous entertainment.
SIX the Musical is a clever re-realising of the stories of six of the best-known Royal consorts in the history of the British crown. Each of the queens tells her own story in her individual song (lyrics Tony Marlow, music Lucy Moss), but each queen’s song is supported in different ways by the other five with vocal and choreographic excellence, and by the onstage band (cutely identified as the “Ladies in Waiting”) providing full-on backing. Intrinsically central to the performances is a raft of impressive lighting and technical wizardry (lighting Tim Deiling, sound Paul Gatehouse). It is this exhilarating combination of 21st century music, choreography and technology that is the essence of this remarkable and thoroughly engaging show. It is not the traditional Musical, but it takes this genre to the next level.
King Henry VIII’s six wives, viz.: Phoenix Jackson Mendoza (Aragon), Kala Gare (Boleyn), Loren Hunter (Seymour), Kiana Daniele (Cleves), Chelsea Dawson (Howard), and Vidya Makan (Parr) are clearly each talented and experienced in their own right and role, and they make an impressive ensemble in their work together. They can each simultaneously sing, tell their story, and dance to sometimes complex, and mostly energetic choreography, originally by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and presented in this tour by Resident Choreographer Cristina D’Agostino. The other factor that impresses is the excellent costumes by Gabriella Slade, who has produced six cleverly Tudor-esque, pieces of sexy regalia for these feisty females to leap about in.
Each song – either individually for the particular queen, or together in ensemble, is a potential pop sensation. With six queen songs plus four that they do all together in this genre, there is sure to be some tendency to sameness, but the variety is certainly there. Jane Seymour’s song, Heart of Stone is a tender, soulful ballad, for example (she produced Henry’s only son, but died in childbirth), in which Loren Hunter shines, and also shows the power and intensity of which she is also capable. Vidya Makan as Catherine Parr (who out lived Henry) also tries something different with a song to say “goodbye” to her actual love who she had to leave when she had to marry the King. There are also some neatly clever touches, such as the not-so-subtle reference to Greensleeves (putatively written by Henry VIII himself) in the score, and some neat plays on words, such as Anne Boleyn (who was beheaded) being encouraged by her father to “get ahead”.
The climax comes when, after all the sorrow, infidelity, miscarriages, abuse and death, expressed in their individual songs, the queens all realise together that, while perhaps the only thing they had in common was the man they all married, they were also one of the main reasons that he is so well remembered, and that they indeed have a voice: they are not “lost in his-story, and are free to take the crowning glory”. And so comes their final song of emancipation: a loud, positive, full-on rhythmic number with vigorous choreography, plenty of flashing lights, and other effects – a glorious shout of undeniable girl power on steroids, to a great well-earned standing ovation. SIX gets 10 out of 10.
Louise Withers, Michael Coppel and Linda Bewick
SIX the Musical
By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directors Lucy Moss and Tony Armitage
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Dates: 21 May – 12 June 2022