Writer: Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow
Director: Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
Choreographer: Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Dazzling, delightful and quite often deliciously irreverent, Six the Musical is most definitely ‘extra’ and you already know you’re going to love it. Intently high-octane, quelling any doubts that this is an illuminative pop concert rather than a musical, this edgy and entertaining evening is a glittering kaleidoscope into the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII. The girls are fierce and full of bravado driven by a gloriously clever idea. The show is current and cohesive and there are history lessons to be learnt. The small cast of, yes, you guessed it, six, really own the stage and make this whole theatrical experience both prodigious and remarkable. The concept is imaginative, the music is irresistible and the Queens are iconic but this isn’t just a musical – it’s an event and the queens haven’t just landed, they’ve arrived.
After a mesmerising show-opener (Ex-Wives) we are introduced to the queens in chronological order; each competing for fandom to win over the audience with charm and satirical wit. Culminating in a mega-mix, or mash up if you like, in true grand-finale style. We’re talking Bona Fide Royals here, and they each have a story to tell with their powerhouse vocals and deft choreography. Each queen commands with skilful play, leaving the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. It’s clear that this tour isn’t the crescendo for Six but it is the jewel in the crown. This musical will be delighting audiences of all ages for decades to come. From its humble Edinburgh Fringe beginnings,Sixhas become a bit of a cult musical as its fanbase grows vociferous. If over 100 million cast album streams doesn’t make the creators lose their heads, then the packed out auditoriums up and down the country just might.
With subtle nods to other cult classic shows (including a perfectly timed wordplay on Suddenly Seymour), this is one act of glib-glamour that grows with lyrical invention. Cleverly and succinctly, the girls play out the glorious tunes of the writing team, Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow, accompanied by a live band of 4 known only to us as the Ladies in Waiting.
Just as King Henry VIII made radical change to his kingdom’s institution (departing the Church of England from papal authority, for example) so these queens make their own historical statements, reaching a wider demographic, inspiring a new cult following as they quite literally take this show to court!
There has, in recent years, been a musical theatre revolution and this shift in play has, quite often, been to the artforms detriment. Not here though. The whole production team seem to have gotten this just right, leaving no room for interpretation.
Those behind this tremendously entertaining show have crafted an epic and this touring production, still as fresh and exciting with its current tour cast did not disappoint. It is clear that the design team (Emma Bailey, Gabriella Slade, Paul Gatehouse and Tim Deiling) have all worked cohesively to bring Lucy Moss’ and Jamie Armitage’s production to life. The sound balance between the band and vocalists is crisp, the fixed set is skilfully crafted and the lighting design really packs a punch. The costumes are fun, with a subtle nod to the Tudor period but totally aware of the show’s post-modern setting. It all seems to just fit and it’s clear that the team have collaborated on each detail to ensure they’re giving the audience just what they want.
It would be remiss of this critic to single out one particular player. They are all eminently equal with strong moves and vocals to boot; especially in the brilliant and bonkers Haus of Holbein scene in which they display a more idiosyncratic flair.
Part protofeminist, part her-story; this show invites us to hold on to our heads – so, buckle up Kings, Queens and everything in between, you’re in for a bumpy ride!
Long may it continue and long live the Queens.
Runs until 30th April 2022, before continuing on tour.