Six women, six songs, one musical
As the lights in the theater dims, an excited hush falls over the audience. Six figures enter and stand in a straight line across the stage. Lights flash on each girl as they introduce their characters in one word: “divorced,” “beheaded,” “died,” “divorced,” “beheaded,” “survived.” Then, all the lights blaze across the stage as the queens unite in song and the audience erupts in an enthusiastic chorus of cheers.
This is the beginning of the opening song, “Ex-wives,” of the musical “Six.” This musical is about Henry VIII’s six wives. Each queen gets a song to tell her story as they battle to see which of their lives was the saddest. With its concert vibe, incredible lighting, technical elements and fun and powerful female characters, “Six” has something for everyone and encompasses what I expect when I attend a musical.
I saw “Six” twice over the summer, once in Chicago in May and again in London in July, and loved it both times. I am a huge theater nerd and have seen a lot of shows, but I can honestly say that seeing “Six” is the most fun that I have ever had when attending a performance. This production is different from any other that I have seen because it is a mix between a musical and a concert. The structure of “Six” followed that of a typical musical, meaning it illustrates a story developed through musical performances. At the same time, there is a live band on stage and the characters perform songs directly to the audience, using handheld microphones rather than randomly breaking into song. The show is interactive: the cast periodically breaks the fourth wall to further engage with the audience.
Another interesting element of this show is the music itself. Along with a few group numbers, each queen performs her own song, which is based off of a real life pop singer. While all the songs fall in the range of pop music, each song is stylistically different. For example, Jane Seymour’s song “Heart of Stone” is based off of Adele and is more of a ballad, while Catherine of Aragon’s song “No Way” is based on Beyoncé and is upbeat. This allows the music throughout the show to be diverse.
I was also impressed by the story of the musical. Most people only know that these women were married to King Henry VIII and how they died. Through the performances, I was able to learn so much about each of these ladies as each performance explored each queen’s backstory. The queens detail their experiences with the king (their “herstory,” as they call it in the musical), such as where each of the queens came from and what led up to meeting King Henry VIII. I enjoy learning about history, and learning about a history that is not very well known in such a unique way made seeing “Six” that much more fascinating.
It was also amazing to see these powerful and talented women take the spotlight and lead the show. When seeing a performance, especially when I was younger, I was always blown away by and looked up to the actresses I saw. It is important that young girls today see these inspiring and talented role models on stage. Along with the six actresses leading the show, the four band members are also a sensational group of women representing the ladies in waiting. A stage full of women is not often done, so it was really wonderful to experience.
“Six” is incredible and I would highly recommend it to everyone, whether they are passionate about theater or if they are just looking to have a fun and entertaining time. From the story, to the music, to the technical elements, I could not have asked for a better experience.