Writers: Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss
Directors: Lucy Moss & Jamie Armitage
Choreographer: Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Reviewer: Jo Payne
‘You remember us from your GCSEs?’
Everyone knows the story. Everyone knows the rhyme. The most famous king of England’s six wives, whose fates are a familiar rhyme, step out from behind the curtain to take centre stage in their own histo-mixed pop concert: divorced, beheaded, LIVE!
Battling it out to prove which of them had the most difficult time as Mrs Henry VIII, the six wives belt their hearts out, strut their stuff, taking the audience to the past and back while partying like it’s 1499. It has taken far too long for Greensleeves to get the dance remix it so desperately needed.
At the forefront of this sassy production are a set of songs with echoes of Little Mix, Jessie J and Hamilton, peppered with many Easter eggs for fans of music and musical theatre (it’s difficult to tell if the Spice Girls reference has been added since the show’s autumn run in London to reflect recent events). The six wives open and close the show together, with solo songs in between which are high-energy and jam-packed full of fun facts for the historians in the audience. Weaving the songs together, the six performers discuss their relationships with each other and the man who united them. Anne Boleyn (Millie O’Connell) brings in the most laughs, saying exactly what many of us would want to say, and Catherine Parr (Maiya Quansah-Breed) becomes the peace-maker of the group.
This show is rare in the musical genre in that every song is a hit, catchy enough to leave the audience humming them for hours. From Seymour’s (Natalie Paris) emotional ballad to Anna of Cleves’ (Alexia McIntosh) dance mix, pitch-perfect performances combine with subtle and slick choreography to create a spectacular feast for the senses. Without wanting to fuel the animosity between the queens, the stand out performance is from K.Howard (Aimie Atkinson). Her offering sees Atkinson’s vocal range and tone stretched to its limits and is an uncomfortable watch as she demonstrates that some things haven’t changed all that much in the last half-millennium.
Gabriella Slade’s spectacular costumes seamlessly bridge the 500-year gap between the Tudor era and 2018. Sharp edges, flashes of flesh, the odd ruff and royal cuts are combined with stark colours to add a modern authenticity to the Tudor pop queen personas on stage. The cast are supported by a brilliant band. These accompanying ladies sound even better live than on the soundtrack recording, especially Alice Angliss on the drums, who brings the house down in the final song, Six.
With a soundtrack that is sure to be played on repeat for months to come, a cast with more talent that you can shake a stick at and stories which have been begging to be told for years, this show is simply unmissable. The audience are buzzing from the moment the cast appear on stage and beg for more at the end. If you’re anywhere near Southampton this week or weekend, try and get your hands on a ticket. You won’t regret it.
Runs until 17 November 2018 | Image: Idil Sukan