“Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” are the first words you hear from “Six the Musical.” This evocative start feels intriguing, with a melody sounding like a concert is about to begin. But as the first song number plays, you realize that it is perfect as it is. It will be bewildering at the start, though who would wonder that the six wives of the infamous 14th-century monarch Henry VIII could be a catchy pop girl group? It’s like Spice Girls but with Tudor queens. Coming to the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, prepare to jam with Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. It will be difficult not to lose your head with such catchy songs, witty humor, and an important message brought by this musical. They are “divorced, beheaded, live!”
“Six is proof that we can still deliver great musical scores without borrowing from history’s best Top 40 tracks. The songs are achingly familiar, and feel like instant hits – with each one dedicated to a wife’s sad story.” – Time Out
“Six is a joyous celebration of sisterhood. It’s the kind of show that makes you want to be a teenager again; if you’d found Six when you were sixteen, you’d be obsessed too. No wonder it’s getting 60,000 streams per day.” – The Guardian
The modern retelling sees the queens battling for the lead singer spot of their pop group. They do this by determining who’s experience with Henry VIII was the worst. Through solos, each queen sang their tragic life with the King. Catherine of Aragon, whose music was inspired by Beyonce’s Lemonade, tells her story of resisting the King’s want to divorce her. Anne Boleyn, modeled amongst artists such as Avril Lavigne and Miley Cyrus, makes fun of Catherine and sings about the King’s infidelity, to which she fiercely retaliated. This led to her punishment of beheading. Jane Seymour gives off Adele and Celine Dion aura, singing a ballad. She details her loyalty to the King and her luck with having his son. Her hopes for a perfect family were destroyed by her untimely death during childbirth.
The second half starts with a new selection of a wife. The chosen lady was Anna of Cleves, who emulates Nicki Minaj and Lorde. She sings sarcastically about her sadness of being rejected because of her looks. Nonetheless, she was given a palace and riches as compensation. Katherine Howard mirrors young artists sexualized by the public, such as Britney Spears and Ariana Grande. She narrates her love interests throughout her young life. At first, she describes her appreciation of the attraction she gained but later disclosed the abuse and trauma she got. At 17, she was accused of adultery leading to her beheading. The last queen, Catherine Parr, brings about the musicality of Alicia Keys. She became the voice of reason amongst the queens and narrated how she gave up her true love after she was chosen to become the wife.
“It has mass appeal, immediacy, enthusiasm, and an incredibly high sense of style” — New York Stage Review
“Six the Musical” came from the idea of Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. This was after Marlow was tasked in 2016 by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society to create a show for Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Marlow, later on, told Moss to join in with the creation. Both were stoked about the idea but, at the same time, realized how risky what they were making was. But with ground-breaking historical musicals gaining approval from musical enthusiasts (especially Hamilton), they found the courage to push it through. The following year, students at Cambridge University presented it at the festival.
The musical debuted on Westend in 2017 and continues to run to this day. Its transfer to Broadway was supposed to be on March 2020 but was postponed due to pandemic lockdowns. It officially opened in October 2021 and was the first live Broadway show after the pandemic.
During the 2019 Laurence Olivier Awards, the musical was nominated five times. On the other hand, the Broadway production received eight nominations and won “Best Original Score” and “Best Costume Design in a Musical.”
The US National tour of “Six the Musical” will come to the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, California, from February 21 to April 9, 2023. Watch as the six queens reclaim their herstory in this sensational musical. The cast includes Khaila Wilcoxon as Catherine of Aragon, Storm Lever as Anne Boleyn, Jasmine Forsberg as Jane Seymour, Olivia Donaldson as Anna of Cleves, Didi Romero as Katherine Howard, and Gabriela Carillo as Catherine Parr. To reserve tickets for its neatly two-month run at Orpheum Theatre, click the “Get Tickets” link.