Last month, my friend Lydia, (she wanted me to name drop), took me to see SIX: The Musical, on the basis that I love all things Tudor-related, because the stars of the show are – you guessed it – Henry VIII’s six wives!
SIX is shown at the Arts Theatre which is modest in size compared to the more widely known theatres in Covent Garden. There’s no fancy foyer, it’s just straight in to the bar and ticket stand, then up or down the stairs to the seating. We were in the stalls.
Until recently, I’d developed a very narrow-minded view of musicals as being too cheesy for my liking. However, after hearing so many people rave about The Book of Mormon I bit the bullet in January and was far from disappointed! My problem with SIX was that nobody I knew had seen it to reassure me.
When the show started I still had my dubious hat on, but by the end of it I was part of the standing ovation, whooping as loud as my lungs would allow.
The stories of the six women may be over 400 years old, but their experiences are still well-remembered today, and SIX conveys a modern relevance that is funny, heartbreaking and empowering.
The show is staged as a kind of sing-off and so each of the queens has her own song about her relationship with Henry.
Catherine of Aragon’s song was compelling and resilient.
Anne Boleyn’s was light-hearted and nonchalant – not the stance I would have liked but I’ve always been defensive of Anne!
Jane Seymour’s song made me eye-roll at first but within about a minute the tears were flowing.
Anne of Cleves delivered the much-needed comic relief, making us cry with laughter instead.
Catherine Howard’s song annoyed me at first but then she completely brought it back and surprised everyone.
Finally, Catherine Parr’s solo was unexpectedly heart-wrenching and bittersweet, which led on perfectly to the group performance at the end.
The costumes deserve a special mention here – gorgeous, glitzy and badass in equal measure, and each of them well-suited to the queens. We couldn’t decide whose we liked best!
What I loved most about SIX was that it exploited popular stereotypes of the queens, and then completely broke them down in order to convey much more humanity to their characters than generic history books will allow. The cast portrayed individual transitions from vulnerability to strength that culminated in a stunning sense of unity and power by the end of the show.
So, if you love history, strong women and a good sing-along, SIX is a must-see! You’ll be coming out of the theatre humming ‘we’re six’ and asking ‘Henry who?’
Good news – SIX is now running until January 2020! Get your tickets here.
(This post is not sponsored in any way, I just want to spread the word.)
Thanks for reading!