Have you ever experienced a moment when you have very low expectation of a show, and BAAM! It delivered? This is exactly my experience with Six, the Musical.
I typically have a list of musical that I wanted to watch while planning my trip to the UK or NYC. While Six was on the list purely because it is one of the newer musicals, it is also on my mental list of shows that I could just cross off if schedule and timing do not permit. Fortunately, everything panned out well, and I bought a ticket to the show with only prior knowledge being that the show is about the six wives of Henry the VIII. One of my friends in London suggested that I listen to the cast recording before the show, but I refused – and I think I might have made the right decision.
Initially, I expected the show to be more of storytelling about the wives and how they interacted with each other. (Yes, I clearly didn’t even know the actual history of the queens because most of them were not wives at the same period.) With that assumption in mind, I was also quite curious how could the show be so short. However, I was more hyped up by Dear Evan Hansen, so I didn’t investigate much on my curiosity.
My first reaction after the show? I LOVED IT!
Interesting story is always a good starting point
The selling point for me from the get-go was that the show is based on actual historical figures. It got even better when each queen has very unique story to tell. I was hooked and spent hours after the finishing the show listening / watching stories about each queen. I think this is also a good educational tool to get kids interested in history, to be honest.
The show is clearly a feministic show. The story revolving around the tragic ending of each queen could have been very submissive, but the choice of tone for each character was very wisely selected to show that each queen was a fighter in their own right. I also love the idea of re-writing the history at the finale.
Throwing popular names of the past like Shakespeare and the von Trappe family was a definitely a plus for me as well.
There was a mini encore concert at the end and audience is permitted to film this!
Efficient and effective numbers
To use consulting jargons, the whole show is very efficient and effective. There are not many numbers, but all songs are very well-written and catchy. I left the theatre loving all songs and listening to the whole album on repeat without skipping.
I even practice yoga with the queens' songs
With the show being a competition of the queens and each getting to sing a song, I was expecting one to really stand out while the other falter, at least by the way the song was written. However, the writer is very clever to have each queen represent different genre, vocal style, vocal profile, and musical style. I even think the climax of each song has similar high notes!
My favorite is Heart of Stone by Jayne Seymour, as I’m a sucker for RnB Pop (though I’m sure the kids would find it boring). However, I found Get Down by Anne of Cleves to be the most interesting. Yet, if we go by the competition rule of being the most tragic, I have to give it to All You Wanna Do by Catherine Howard. The song is about a girl who was sexually exploited by men!
The finale got me tear up so much for some reason. It was a happy song, but the blending of all the queens and the message were so beautiful.
Six is probably one of the few shows that I didn’t see many people talk about the casts. For example, when I watched Anything Goes, I would know that Kerry Ellis was the leading actress. I guess it was also because there is no clear lead in this. However, all the queens are great!
There isn’t much acting to be done as this is a sing-off style of competition. Each of them will have lines and a very minor bits of emotion / character to represent.
However, all of them have great vocals. They can belt and riff crazy notes – at least in my show. I also found out later that the climax of each song can be improvised by the queens. For example, Anne of Cleve once went opera in Get Down in a Broadway production. For my show specifically, I love the vocal style and profile of Catherine Parr – very smooth and soothing but can be powerful if needed.
Interesting side stories
I was quite surprised to learn later that Catherine of Aragon was a mother of a very well-known name – Bloody Mary or Queen Mary I. Her road to fame of the name “Bloody Mary” was from killing many religious dissenters during her reign, hence “bloody”. I think I might have even heard stories of hers during my trip in York.
Anne Boleyn’s daughter is also another famous figure, Queen Elizabeth I. However, what interested me then was the fact that Queen Elizabeth I is the last ruler of Tudor before the arrival of James VI. Why am I talking about James VI? Because he is famous for starting grand-scale witch hunting in England, and is the main antagonist of my favorite fantasy series, Witchoar.