The Vaudeville Theatre in London is currently running the musical SIX and it is a triumph of history, music and enjoyability. SIX sees King Henry VIII’s wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr retell their histories from their perspectives. There are nine songs throughout the musical, one for each wife and three group songs.
The play begins with the song ‘Ex-wives’ which relays the play’s premise to empower the six women and give them a story separate from Henry. The wives then set out the rest of the musical, a competition to see who has suffered the most during their relationship with Henry. This is when seven of the songs are sang, with The House of Holbein being the only other group song in the body of the show.
Each wife takes turns having a solo, all expertly sung by the actresses, to try and make their time with Henry sound the most challenging. The track goes-
Catherine of Aragon- No way
Anne Boleyn- Don’t lose your head
Jane Seymour- Heart of Stone
Anne of Cleves- Get Down
Katherine Howard- All you wanna do
Katherine Parr- I don’t need your love
The six songs offer a variety of pop, rap, RnB and opera which can appeal everyone in the audience. The target demographic for this musical is ideally adults as some of the jokes and lyrics rely on sexual innuendos for their humour, however, there is nothing too explicit so should a child be in the crowd, there is no harm done.
After each wife has sung, they decide comparing one another is wrong and they sing a final song with a twist. The overall message is one of women’s empowerment and a refreshing take on very publicly known history.
There are many good things to say about SIX. The pacing is fantastic, with songs coming thick and fast with often short and comedic pieces of dialogue in between. The tone is very appealing too as it is politically liberal with some anti patriarchy references, but nothing is ever rammed in the audience's face which allows for a greater enjoyment of the performance. The performances from the six leader singers are all terrific with choreography perfected, alongside plenty of passion and commitment to their roles. At 80 minutes long, SIX is a fast paced retelling of the lives of six women you thought you knew.
Some moments in the play were slightly childish with whiny and derivative arguing, however, they were quick moments and the tone was quickly restored to musical and professional. This ensured plenty of laughs throughout and the musical never had to be taken too seriously.
The outfits were covered in sparkles and the stage was adorned in a backdrop of LED lights, giving it a fresh, modern feel. It was modern art at its best. The musical has received mountains of five star reviews throughout England and America, where it runs on Broadway, so the verdict is already unanimously positive. I would like to add onto that and give a total recommendation to go see this musical. It is enthralling, expertly performed, fun for all ages and an incredibly fresh take on an often overlooked and generalised topic.
This musical is a must watch.
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