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History’s about to be overthrown: ‘Six’ the musical

Thursday, April 23, 2020 is the official cutoff date for Broadway productions’ eligibility for the Tony Award. As that date quickly approaches, the list of contenders, which has been rather small for musical theatre, is substantially growing in size.

One of these new contenders is an original show that was transferred from the West End: “Six.” It is set to open at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on March 12, 2020.

The original musical, written by two Cambridge University students, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is presented in the style of a pop concert. Throughout, each of the six wives of King Henry VIII take turns recounting their stories, competing to be the group’s lead singer. Within each song, the singers use anachronistic language and contemporary slang.

The show begins with a song called “Ex-Wives” where the six singers claim, “all you ever read about is our ex and the way it ended.” Then, after each of the six wives introduce themselves, the singers collectively inform the audience they will tell their stories and “history’s about to be overthrown.”

First up is Catherine of Aragon, who Henry VIII divorced after 24 years. Her story comes in the form of the song, “No Way,” in which she vehemently says that she will refuse to leave her position as queen.

Anne Boleyn is the next singer who recounts her story in, “Don’t Lose Ur Head.” In this song she tells the audience how Henry lusted for her while still married to Catherine of Aragon, and how she was, allegedly, the sole reason why Henry founded the Church of England. After the song ends, she argues that she should win the competition since she was charged with adultery, incest and treason by the king and was subsequently beheaded.

Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, then takes the stage to sing “Heart of Stone.” In the song, she recounts how she was allegedly the only one the king ever loved. Given that allegation, her song is arguably the most heartfelt on the cast album. However, after giving birth to Henry’s male heir, she dies.

Next comes Anne of Cleves, who sings her story in “Get Down.” After the death of Jane Seymour, Henry is told to form an alliance with William, Duke of Cleves, so he must marry one of three eligible women from Cleves. After seeing her picture, Henry selects Anne; however, he claims Anne didn’t look like she did in the picture and had the marriage nullified after six months.

Katherine Howard is Henry’s fifth wife and tells her story in “All You Wanna Do.” She recounts all the men, including Francis Dereham, who allegedly abused her before she met Henry VIII. Then, she ends by telling the audience how she was beheaded after committing adultery with one of the king’s distant cousins.

Finally, Catherine Parr sings, “I Don’t Need Your Love,” in which she states how she outlived the king and tells of all the accomplishments she made after Henry’s death. 

Overall, the musical is incredibly well-written and the cast recording on Spotify includes the talents of Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour and Renee Lamb as Catherine of Aragon. Headed into Tony Awards, it will be interesting to see if “Six” can pick up as many nominations as it has queens.

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