Music/Lyrics: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Director: Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
“Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survive” and this week they are live at the Liverpool Empire Theatre! The story of Henry VIII and his six wives is taught in schools up and down the country (you will know it if you took GCSE History!) and has been for many years. We may have learned the divorced, beheaded, died rhyme and even may have learned the names of the six wives, but do we actually know their stories?
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six was originally produced to fill a slot at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but this pop concert-style musical has gone on to be a global success. Lasting just 80 minutes (there’s no interval so make sure you go the loo before it starts!) the show is the ultimate girl-power story! It highlights how each wife had her own trials and tribulations with the King, but how each was very much a Queen in her own right.
From the moment the six Queen’s step foot on stage the atmosphere is electric. They are joined by the “Ladies in Waiting” – a fabulous four-piece, all female, band who remain on stage for the duration and add to the pop concert feel to the show.
Each Queen then takes centre stage and performs a song to tell “her story”. They argue over who had it worse with King Henry in a bid to become the ultimate Queen! First up is Catherine of Aragon (Chlöe Hart) who tells how she was loyal to Henry, but was left for a younger model. Hart is a vocal powerhouse and she has great comic timing. Her rendition of “No Way” brought the house down and the applause went on a lot longer than it usually would!
The aforementioned younger model came in the form of Anne Boleyn (Jennifer Caldwell) – the first of the wives to be executed! Caldwell gives a solid performance and if funny throughout, often generating some of the audience’s biggest laughs. Next to compete is Jane Seymour (Casey Al-Shaqsy) who was the Queen who died after childbirth, but the one who is notoriously remembered as being the only Queen Henry really loved. Al-Shaqsy gives a heartfelt performance during “Heart of Stone” and is vocally stunning.
A trip to the “Haus of Holbein” lights up the stage and all of the Queens join forces to create a visual masterpiece on stage! With excellently executed (for want of a better word!) choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, exceptional Tudor style costumes (but with a modern twist!) and clubland style lighting the stage comes alive as we are introduced to Anna of Cleves (Grace Melville) – the Queen who didn’t look like her picture according to Henry! During her song Melville has part of her costume stripped away and is left in a corset style basque. She is fierce and strong and totally owned the stage during her performance!
The final two Queens, Katherine Howard (Jaina Brock-Patel) and Catherine Parr (Alana M Robinson) have very different outcomes to their stories with one being beheaded and the other surviving, but both seemed to have love for men other than Henry! Brock-Patel is so like Ariana Grande in both her looks and movements you can tell she was one of the “Queenspirations”, she would also give her a run for her money vocally too! Robinson seemed the most chilled of the Queen’s – remaining calm and collected at all times but still made her presence known.
By the end of the show the six Queens come to realise that together they are stronger and that without each other they wouldn’t be remembered in history at all really. They all had a story to tell and this musical gives the audience the chance to see things from the female point of view. This show is empowering and feel good and you leave the theatre buzzing. “A gold star for Cathy Parr” Is joked about during the show, but each Queen deserved a star… it’s a shame we can only give out five!
Runs until 16 April 2022