UPDATE: Six is now booking at the Lyric Theatre from 14/11/20 through to 31/1/21 Tickets
WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
WHERE?: Arts Theatre RUN TIME: 75 minutes
WHEN?: 17/1/19 (matinee) booking to 5/1/20
It couldn’t be more timely for this musical about the 6 wives of Henry VIII to be returning to the West End as tales of Queen Anne, Mary Queen Of Scots and Elizabeth I dominate cinemas.
- Read on for reasons including how you’ll be headed home humming the hits with a smile across your face
Six was written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is presented as a pop arena show and was premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 before a 6-night residency at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End, its current home.
It toured the UK twice in 2018 and enjoyed a 6-week run at the Arts Theatre that year before returning this month and booking until January 2020.
A production premieres at Chicago’s Shakespeare Theatre in May 2019.
The 10-song cast recording is available on iTunes for those wanting to hear what all the fuss is about and we caught up with it before our visit to the show and were struck by how much fun the project was.
The music might be a little formulaic at times, it reminds us of the Eurovision parody musical Eurobeat in that respect, but there are some laugh-out-loud lyrical moments with the 16th century wives (just before Elizabeth I, whose mother Anne Boleyn features here, and a century ahead, no pun intended, of Queen Anne).
It’s the lyrics of Anne Boleyn’s Shampoo/Younger Younger 28s/Lily Allen-esque song Don’t Lose Ur Head that we most enjoy because they are so of this time but are describing a period 500 or so years ago.
They include (listen below) the scene-setting: ‘Tried to elope, but the pope said nope, Our only hope was Henry. He got a promotion, caused a commotion, set in motion, the C of E’ as well as the character-revealing words to a love rival: ‘He doesn’t wanna bang you, somebody hang you.’
We look around us in the audience at the Arts Theatre and it is predominantly teenage and female. One of the strengths of Six is that it reduces its stories: Divorced/Beheaded/Died/Divorced/Beheaded/Survived and uses the style of current pop stars, including Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna and Britney, as musical inspiration to reimagine them.
Jarnelia Richard-Noel is a fierce Catherine of Aragon surpassed only for us by the bling of Alexia McIntosh as Anna of Cleeves. Natalie Paris has the big, X-Factor-style love ballad and Millie O’Connell the funniest song Don’t Lose Ur Head (see above, sample lyric: ‘Everybody chill, it’s totes God’s will’).
Aimie Atkinson is familiar to us from last year’s Eurovision: You Decide with its best song (Goldstone’s I Feel The Love) and she sings impressively here while the best tune is probably survivor Catherine Parr’s (a fine professional debut by Maiya Quansah-Reed) with I Don’t Need Your Love giving a sense of where this is going thematically.
We’re reminded of the best girl groups like Little Mix and Spice Girls by the interplay of the wives and by how the women are stronger together by the end. We guarantee you’ll be headed home humming the hits with a smile across your face.