Sunday evening… With a bit of luck… Every finger crossed (obviously including Anne Boleyn’s alleged sixth nail) will mark one of the smoothest Broadway opening nights – in a karmic way – since the shows resumed. On the night of March 12, 2020, Six, which sees the six wives of Henry VIII loudly claiming their own history, had to open. But that afternoon, the pandemic shutdown of Broadway was announced, and Six never had its opening night – until Sunday night, when the original Broadway cast finally returns, officially opens the show at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.
Of course, it’s worth the wait. Of course, anyone planning their own return to Broadway should buy a ticket. It’s one of the smartest, wittiest, and flashiest musicals in town – and settles in New York after rave reviews everywhere it has performed, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it started life in 2017, and the West End of London. Sunday evening, more than 18 months later than expected, Six has its long-awaited and well-deserved moment to shine.
Welcome to this ever-excellent cast: Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks), Anne Boleyn (Andrea Macasaet), Jane Seymour (Abby Mueller), Anna of Cleves (Brittney Mack), Katherine Howard (Samantha Pauly) and Catherine Parr (Anna Uzèle) ); and also the phenomenal group on stage: Julia Schade (conductor / keyboard), Michelle Osbourne (bass), Kimi Hayes (guitars) and Elena Bonomo (drums).
In case you haven’t heard it before, the musical Six– by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss and directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage – sees the “queens” gathered on stage initially in a sort of musical girl group deathmatch. Their intention is to compete, through song, who suffered the most at the cruel hand of the legendary Priapist Henry: “The queen who received the worst hand … will be the one who leads the group.”
But the show’s real intention is to reveal how much more all women are than their grouping together in the propellant’s opening issue, “Ex-Wives,” and their infamous descriptors: “Divorced, beheaded, dead. , divorced, beheaded, survived. ”It’s telling that the structure of the show means every queen gets a solo, and when she does, all of the other queens support her as backing vocalists and dancers.
The costumes (Gabriella Slade) and mood lighting (Tim Deiling) blend Tudor style and scorching pop; think royal armor and breastplates meet “Baby One More Time”. Every queen has a song, and each of those songs is enthusiastically applauded. The influences of each of these solos are listed on the program: Beyoncé, Shakira, Lily Allen, Avril Lavigne, Adele, Sia, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé. The weaving of songs, real-life history, and women’s experiences is playful, hilarious, and ingenious.
The on-stage clash of historical figures and mores with modern music and storytelling – and queens whose grip on soft-jawed irony is definitely more Gen Z than 1543 – is the most compelling history lesson to laugh you ever had. Orchestrations (Tom Curran) and choreography (Carrie-Anne Ingroulle) are deceptive for girl groups, sweet pills full of depth.
Anne Boleyn (song: “Don’t Lose Ur Head”) carries with her the irritated and diva-ish impatience of one whose story / everyone remembers, as well as being one of the two who have been beheaded.
Whenever someone tries to reinforce the group on the perceived pain, Anne is there to at least remind them that they have kept a cool head. While the initial battle is on, all is a fair gameplay as they argue through and between songs about why, say, a miscarriage trumps a dreary old adultery.
The less memorable wives are called precisely for this by the best known, for what is history and the passage of time if not a ruthless measure of power and effective public relations? The songs – with the exception of Mueller’s power ballad “Heart of Stone” for Jane Seymour, a newer and brighter sort of “I Know Him So Well” – are dance floor stepping stones and L-fists. ‘air.
The collectively sung “Haus of Holbein”, a meditation on the ideals of beauty set at Euro house, suits Lady Gaga so well that you think it’s coming from her or you hope the queens will perform it with her. one day. Next, Anna of Cleves happily tears up the stage and strips down for ‘Get Down,’ which instead of complaining about her fate with Henry, brags about all the fun she’s had as a Palace Wife. Regrets: she didn’t have any.
Historical facts are turned into bitchy one-liners, or recited concisely to remind audiences that no, it’s not just a fun evening of music but a feminist reclamation made necessary by a patriarchal framing of the story that set it aside, at least in the popular imagination, the real life and spirit of the six women.
Between the sound of the electric guitar and the bish-bash-bosh of the drums, we hear about not only the hardships of living with Henry, but also about the Reformation, Thomas Cromwell, Catholicism, Protestantism and beliefs and feelings of women. Six is his own Bechdel test for finding a way to situate the Six Wives in their own lives, desires, ambitions, weaknesses, losses, triumphs, and strengths.
At the end, the musical cleverly takes the queens down a seemingly impossible and intriguing cul-de-sac. What if they’re more than Henry’s six wives? Why should they compete for anything? And then there is the problem of the banner that they are always defined in relation to him, including by them in front of us at this time. They are never entitled to their own voice.
Then the musical, with a big wink, cheerfully comes up with its own twist, which has always been prominent in Sixphilosophical foundations of. As a shower of golden confetti falls, you might feel like you’ve had a good time seeing six women frozen in the familiar story with a thrilling revival – and you’ve also been reminded that the story and its characters, big and small, need not be set in mind-numbing stone.
Queens, you are all having a wonderful night.