by Tulis McCall
SIX:The Musical has been produced in Edinburgh, London, Chicago, Boston, Edmonton, St. Paul, Sydney and on Norwegian Cruise Liners (two ships with a third coming soon). About the only place it has NOT been produced is here in New York. Well, it WAS slated to open last March…. and 18 months later it is finally the right time. For them AND us.
Remember this ditty from grammar school?
King Henry the Eighth
To Six wives he was wedded.
One died. One survived.
Two divorced. Two beheaded.
In SIX the order is, well, in order. “Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.”
Divorced – Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks)
Beheaded – Anne Boleyn (Andrea Macasaet)
Died – Jane Seymour (Abby Mueller)
Divorced – Anne of Cleves (Brittney Mack)
Beheaded – Katherine Howard (Courtney Mack the night I saw the show)
Survived – Catherine Parr (Anna Uzele)
This show is mostly music that is juicy, loud and good enough to dance to. These women are raw, full of puns and very aware that they are in THIS moment, not the one in which they actually lived – where there was little joy and not a lot of indoor plumbing. Their weddings went from 1509 to 1543. Henry lived 1491-1547. So for 38 of his 56 years, our boy Henry was gobbling up wives as fast as they could be found.
Mostly they were found under his nose. Almost everyone was a lady-in-waiting to whoever preceded her. So the backstabbing must have been pretty intense. Here, however, not so much. What initially starts out as a contest as to who will be the “The queen of the castle,” “The rose among the thorns,” “The Thomas Cromwell amongst the royal ministers between 1532 and 1540” – yes folks you are expected to pay attention – becomes a girl fest with some serious hot sauce on hand.
The judgement will be measured: who had the biggest “load of BS to deal with from the man who put a ring on it.” Believe me when I tell you it is a dead heat.
One by one the women, consumed in jewel entrusted glory, tell their stories. Each more self absorbed than the next. Each song a showstopper exquisitely crafted to suit the woman and her time. As the evening progresses it becomes less of a competition than a celebration of being a friggin’ woman. And the fact that the band – The Ladies In Waiting – are all ladies only increases the flat out BAM BAM BAM. There is a lot of Beyoncé-Britney-Alicia-Ariana-Adele attitude consuming the stage and spilling over the footlights into the audience. Are we are a concert or a musical? Both.
Because Marlow and Moss are smart writers, it is not lost on anyone that the woes of the 16th century resonate with the 21st. Marriage is still a measure of your worth. These women were their own mini-corporations, running their world but only as the second in command and only as long as it pleased the king. Ivana Trump anyone? One wrong move, intentional or not, would separate your head from the rest of you. Afghanistan anyone? These women had the appearance of power. And they knew that was all they had. Which makes the sister-to-sister rejoicing a spectacular event.
Mention must be made of the choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille which unites these women of varying dance talent into one cohesive posse that never leaves the stage and never loses focus on whose story is in the spotlight.
Marlow and Moss started this journey in 2017 at Oxford. (Anyone remember 2017?) They have created a generous, funny, provocative show that races by you, grabs your hand and flies up into the stratosphere. When you return to your seat, you wonder what might have happened if these six wives of Henry VIII ever got together for real. But you don’t wonder for long – because they just did and you were there. BRAVA all around.
Just for giggles I counted all the personnel not mentioned here and came up with over ONE HUNDED THIRTY PEOPLE working on this show.
I also noticed this in the program: “We are gathered in this theatre on the unnceded land of the Munsee Lenape peoples. The entire team at SIX:The Musical acknowledges the Lenape and indigenous communities, the original stewards of this land; their elders bt past and present; as well as future generations.” (I hope they get complimentary tickets.)
Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr.
“The Ladies in Waiting”- Conductor/Keyboard – Julia Schade, Bass – Michelle Osbourne, Guitars – Kim Hayes, Drums – Elena Bonomo
Featuring choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. The design team includes Emma Bailey (Set Design), Gabriella Slade (Costume Design), Tim Deiling (Lighting Design), and Paul Gatehouse (Sound Design). The score features orchestrations by Tom Curran with music supervision and vocal arrangements by Joe Beighton and U.S. Music Supervision by Roberta Duchak.