Who wants to be a Spice Girl when you can be a Queen?
I think that the hardest reviews to write are the ones like these and, while it is so very exciting when something comes along that makes you speechless, it makes this job very hard to do. Six is one of those shows! Every moment of this production is an absolute joy to watch. The women are sassy, the music is incredible, the singing faultless and all within a very well known story being told from a point of view we have not seen before. Really, all, I wanted to say for this review was “just wow!”
But, I don’t think that is quite enough so here I go.
Six is a musical about Henry VIII’s wives, all of whom want to win the crown of being the most hard done by wife. The queens perform as a girl band, Six, desperately trying to tell their stories and win the title of “best queen”. Aimed to be a bit of a feminist retelling of Henry’s wives, each one gets a song in which to prove they’re the biggest victim – the one who suffered the most at Henry’s hands. Thankfully, throughout the show by way of song, we hear a few more bits of information about the Queens aside from the fact that they were married to a fat, bearded, adulterous man.
Having performed, they all realise they shouldn’t be in competition with one another, that it helps no one and that actually, the only reason Henry VIII is famous, is because of them. It is a story of hardship, pain, love and lust, culminating with the moral that women should support women all cloaked in a wonderfully glitzy, glamorous and fresh musical which I am sure can be enjoyed by anyone. For a large number of theatregoers, these Queens will now have names and will no longer just be “divorced”, “beheaded”“died” or “survived”.
This musical began its life as a Cambridge University show. Its creators, Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow, have done an amazing job of taking an overtold story about a King and his wives, and crafted it into a truly fabulous show fit for the West End! It has a broad range of music to keep everyone happy – a bit of R&B, some cheesy pop and a truly stonking ballad. Millie O’Connel as Anne Boleyn singing a cute Kate Nash style song – Don’t Lose Your Head, Aimie Atkinson as Katherine Howard channeling Nicky Manaj in Get Down, while Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour performed, to perfection, the beautiful ballad that is Heart of Stone. I can tell you I have been singing (and listening to them) ever since.
Along with the range of music there was a lot of “millennial language” and current references which in time will need updated to keep it relevant (which sound sodd considering it is a 500 year old story) but the lovely thing was that these lines were delivered in a tongue in cheek way that didn’t make me feel old (I JUST qualify as millennial) and I don’t it think will alienate any generation
The clever lyrics, nerdy historical references, and some mighty lungs on the women performing alongside an all female band, make this production something else – far and above any other new show I have seen recently. There was no cheesy getting people to their feet in the last number to force a standing ovation – the entire leapt to their feet without second thought at the end of the final song!
This is, with a doubt a show to inspire feminism about women supporting women and reminding us that may women in history have been forgotten. It is even more fitting, therefore that, as a team, they have been nominated for best actress in a supporting role at the Oliviers along with 4 other nominations!
Most people in musical theatre know the big names – Lea Salonga, Sarah Brightman, Elaine Paige, Edina Menzel – but I can guarantee that these women will be added to this list soon! Not only has six the musical cemented the names of Henry’s Queens and their stories in our heads but I can also be sure that the names of the women in this incredible show will not be forgotten and they will rise up to be Queens of musical theatre in no time at all. Jarneia Richard-Noel, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Alexia McIntosh, Aimie Atkinson and Maiya Quansah-Breed are a force to be reckoned with and Six is a must see show! I will be going again (and probably again after that)
Six is booking at the London Arts Theatre ….for the foreseeable future!
Ticket information can be found here
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Costume – Gabriella Slade
Band – The Ladies in Waiting
Musical Director: Katy Richardson
Drums: Alice Angliss
Guitar: Amy Shaw
Bass: Terri De Marco
Choreographer – Carrie-Anne Ingrouille