With visions of frumpy Tudor dresses and bonnets, lutes and ouds playing and a storyline plucked straight from dusty history annals, the description of SIX as a musical about Henry VIII’s six wives ‘like never seen before’, may not have piqued our interest, but the hype certainly did.
Making a huge noise and constantly selling out in the West End, filling theatres across the UK (including at the Everyman Theatre in January 2020) and with an imminent Broadway debut, SIX has sensationally stormed the theatre world since its Edinburgh fringe debut in 2017.
Creating a fervent, young band of passionate know-every-word-advocates for the show – some booking seats for every night during its Cheltenham run – despite not usually being big musical fans, we couldn’t resist seeing what all the SIX fuss was about…
The SIX plot is simple enough: each of King Henry VIII’s queens compete for the wife who had the most tragic life – telling their pitiful stories (filled with abuse, adultery, rejection, miscarriages, beheadings) with a single song, in a bid to get the audience’s votes.
Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived… ‘Remember us from your GCSEs?’ the queens ask.
Catherine of Aragon kicks things off performing the high-energy anthem ‘No Way’ and was ‘almost’ shipped off to a convent. The selfie-taking Anne Boleyn who was ‘that sexy’ she broke England from the church, loses her head. Tear-jerking ballad-singing Jane Seymour, Henry’s only true love, dies in child birth.
Anna of Cleves, was dumped because she doesn’t look as good as her profile picture, but seems to get off lightly with a palace, riches and no man around to tell her how to spend it. Katherine Howard the ‘ten amongst these threes’ was beheaded for promiscuity. And Catherine Parr, not just survives, but ‘wrote books and songs and meditations’ and fought for female education.
And, after all the competition there is, of course, a twist… an empowering, woke, feminist twist, and while not historically accurate, a finale that re-writes ‘her-story’. This is 2020, not 1520, after all…
Dressed in fishnets, PVC and studded chokers, with whoops, cheers, and ‘CHELTENHAM make some noise….’, SIX is not your typical musical.
There’s NO INTERVAL. An all-girl ‘ladies in waiting’ band on stage. Plenty of audience interaction. And at the end, there was a whole song where almost everyone in the Everyman Theatre stood up and danced.
More like a Little Mix concert, with a touch of Hamilton thrown in, the SIX queens were all incredible, each individually demonstrating amazing vocals, with tight, flawless, high-energy choreography.
Add in infectious tunes and exceptionally risqué lyrics that would make most history teachers blush, and it’s easy to get swept up in the SIX hype.
While SIX The Musical sold out for its January 2020 run at the Everyman Theatre, if you missed out on tickets first time around (or want to see it again, like we do!) it will be returning to Cheltenham for two more weeks, from Monday 26 October to Saturday 7 November 2020.
There’s even a one-off sing-a-long performance on Friday 6 November 2020 – with enough time to really perfect those choruses! ‘We’re six…’
By Michelle Fyrne
Wednesday 29 January 2020
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