Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.
When I had heard about a musical written by two university friends about the wives of King Henry VIII, I was intrigued.
Fast forward five years and this Bridgerton meets Britney pop musical sensation is in Australia, after touring the world with countless accolades.
A musical comedy with book, music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, SIX is based on the historical lives of the six wives of Henry VIII.
A modern retelling presented as a pop concert as the Queens take it in turns singing and spilling their story, vying to win the title of ‘most suffered’ and ultimately become the lead singer of the group.
The opening anthem ‘Ex-Wives’ blew the roof off – with a dazzling display of arena style lighting, bursting with girl power and a dynamic team of performers.
The first wife to tell her version of events is Catherine of Aragon played with Beyonce and Shakira vibes by Phoenix Jackson Mendosa. Her song ‘No Way’ recounts her anger with Henry as he wished to annul their marriage and place her in a nunnery when he began lusting after wife number two, Anne Boleyn. Her voice soaring through the balcony with her brilliant beaming sound.
Kara Gare brought the Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne feels with her reciting of how Henry’s infidelity caused her to flirt with other men and ultimately led to her beheading. In her track ‘Don’t lose your Head’, Gare displayed her comedy flair and peppered her song with lols and sorry not sorrys… very generational and current and definitely appealed to the mass of teenagers in the crowd.
Wife number three, didn’t really ‘suffer’ like the other wives, according to them. Jane Seymour, portrayed beautifully by the angelic Loren Hunter, may have been the only spouse Henry actually loved, but his love was conditional on her having produced a male heir and that she stood by him despite his many faults. Her ballad ‘Heart of Stone’ was an ode to Adele and Sia and had her full timbre tone on display.
Next up was wifey number four, the German Anna of Cleves. The wives perform the disco/pop/Eurovision style ‘Haus of Holbein’ as a hilarious romp; a satire of a dating app where the Queens present a choice of three women for Henry to marry. He settles on Cleves, but soon rejects her and annuls their marriage after seeing her non-resemblance to her portrait. Kiana Daniele’s deep, raspy vocals are perfect for the mix of Nicki Minaj and Rihanna and delivered her ode ‘Get Down’ with gusto and ecstatic cheers from the audience.
Poor Katherine Howard, the fifth and ‘least relevant Catherine’ was modernised with Ariana Grande and Britney Spears-like attitude. Chelsea Dawson played this Queen to perfection; with innocence and naivety but huge emotional range to deliver ‘All You Wanna Do’ revealing her emotional trauma and abuse faced.
As they continue to argue over who is the true winner, Catherine Parr, the final wife, questions the point of the competition which defines them by their connection to Henry rather than as individuals.
Parr’s song is different from the others, as she describes being separated from her lover, and her arranged marriage to Henry, but sings of her accomplishments independent from Henry and his only surviving wife in ‘I Don’t need your Love’.
Vidya Makan’s maturity is evident in her voice and posturing and presents this Queen as a cross between Alicia Keys and Emeli Sande.
The other Queens now realise they do not need this contest to feel validated and use their last remaining moments on stage to rewrite their stories, singing as a group and writing their own ‘happily ever afters’ in the finale ‘Six’.
This song has the women tell how their story would have turned out, had Henry never been involved.
Fantastic musical direction, supported by the ‘Ladies in Waiting’ band, coupled with a myriad of musical cues and choreography, this all girl show really is a virtuoso concept of a musical – one that incorporates history and the nuances of it’s retelling, with layers of irony and almost mocks how the Queens stories have changed over the centuries.
A wild ride in Adelaide for just another 2 weeks, this wickedly whip-smart and catchy show will stay with you and have you reaching for the history channels to soak up more on the memories of these women whose stories are tied to the life of one man.