The Tudor period was a time where women were the property of men and second-class citizens. So, I love that Six The Musical has given the fierce (and unlucky) wives of Henry VIII a voice, finally. And they are all badasses!
Six The Musical brings feminism to the forefront of, pretty much, one of the most well-known and socially accepted stories of male domination and abuse of women.
‘Oh, you’re pretty so you have to marry me and bear me a son. I’m allowed to screw around and do whatever I want but you can’t so much as look at another man. Otherwise, I’ll kill you.’ Hmmm alright then, Henry.
I’ve never really thought about it before, but it’s funny how history is literally spelt ‘his story’… Coincidence? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because this show has now made it herstory.
We’re one of a kind, no category.
Too many years lost in his story.
We’re free to take our crowning glory for five more minutes.
The show started it’s life at Cambridge University as a student project before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. Based on the success of its Edinburgh run, the show transferred to the Arts Theatre in London where it shows no signs of leaving for the foreseeable future.
With an all-female cast and an all-female band on stage at all times, this musical is surely making herstory right now. The audience was filled predominately with women, with the odd man thrown in for good measure. But it is clear from just gaging the show’s audience that this musical extravaganza couldn’t have come at a better time – in a time where Brett Kavanaughs become high supreme court judges and Donald Trump is the President of the United States. We need some serious empowering women right now and Six The Musical serves it right to us.
If you’re thinking this is going to be a medieval affair, you could not be more wrong. The score could not be more contemporary and the costumes are definitely not what Henry’s real wives would have worn. Although I can imagine Katherine Howard would have loved them, somehow.
The show’s format is set out like a pop concert, come talent show, where the six female leads battle it out for the audience to decide which wife suffered the most. The options: cast aside after 30-odd years of marriage, being beheaded for not living up to what he hoped for, dying in childbirth, not being ‘fit’ enough to be wife-material, being sexually abused pretty much your whole life until it kills you, or being forced to leave the man you actually love for a man in more power who demands it. Hmmm, I personally think they ALL win…
But it’s no deep and emotional affair; Six The Musical is as light-hearted as they come. It made me laugh out loud, it made me cry, it made my soul soar with the talent on that stage and it left me cheering and standing from my seat, dancing along and pumping the air with all my pent-up girl power.
Every actress on that stage was funny, feisty and down-right talented. In honour of the pop concert format, each wife’s solo was based on the style of a current female artist in the charts.
Catherine of Aragon, played brilliantly by Jarneia Richard-Noel, sings a sassy Beyonce-inspired number called ‘No Way’. Anne Boleyn is turned into a ditzy but ballsy ‘basic’ girl and sings the hilarious Lily Allen-inspired song, ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’. Millie O’Connell is quite frankly perfection as my all-time favourite of the six wives.
Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour sang the most beautiful ballad, reminiscent of Adele, called ‘Heart of Stone’. This was the first moment where I cried in the show – the song is stunning and Natalie’s vocals are just flawless.
Alexia McIntosh is a force to be reckoned with as the hilarious badass, Anne of Cleves. While poor Anne may have not been ‘as good as her profile picture’, Alexia McIntosh is so confident and sexy (with abs of steel, I might add) that it’s pretty comedic that she is playing ‘the ugly wife’. Her Rhianna-influenced solo, ‘Get Down’ was perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser – I don’t think anyone could have enjoyed it any more than they did.
Aimee Atkinson is a star as poor baby Catherine Howard. I always felt so sorry for Catherine Howard in history because she was only a teenager when she was forced to marry horrible, old Henry, just because she was a very pretty young thing. Her Ariana Grande-style song, ‘All You Wanna Do’, is electric. It lulls you into a sense of safety as she describes her sexual encounters with men until it climaxes at the point of her trauma of years of sexual abuse and eventual beheading. Because of course, she is the one who gets the blame for her sexual promiscuity, whether wanted or not. She must have been wearing a short skirt or something…
And last but certainly not least is Catherine Parr, the one who survived, with the Alicia Keys-inspired love song, ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’. Maiya Quansah-Breed is exquisite both in her acting and her vocal ability; I could listen to her sing all day. This was the second point where I cried in this show because this is the turning point where the women become truly empowered. Did you know that Catherine Parr was a feminist before it was ‘cool’? She was a writer and a poet, fought for female education and hired a woman to paint her portrait. I didn’t know that, because we were never taught that in history lessons – in fact, Catherine, in general, was completely skidded over.
In fact, all of these women were pretty skidded over, because what’s really important is that Henry VIII was a total ‘lad’ and a shag-about. These six women were just his conquests and were, and are, disposable. Until now.
The show runs at just over an hour so it’s a fun theatre trip to throw into the middle of your day. The band is fantastic, the music is catchy, and the show is filled with barrels of laughs alongside the awesome talent.
Grab your girlfriends and grab your tickets because this is one show that you do not want to be missing. I’m already looking forward to seeing this show again.
If you were hoping to catch Six The Musical in London over the next couple of weeks, then your luck may be out. It is predominantly sold out, except the odd ticket on Wednesday matinees so head to the Six The Musical website fast! Then the show goes on tour to Kingston, Southampton, Salford and Glasgow.
BUT you are in big luck because just last week the show announced that it would be returning to the West End in the new year with an open-ended run! (I can’t even contain my excitement!!).
Grab your girlfriends, your mum, your gran, and get yourself to Six The Musical. The female power will lift your soul and you will have the most fun 1 hour 15 minutes in the West End you will currently get.