If you’re like me, you probably learned the story of Henry VIII in your high school history class. He’s a 16th-century monarch, who changed the landscape of politics and religion with his creation of the Church of England. However, Henry VIII is also infamous for his six wives and what happened to some of them. The wives of Henry VIII have long had their own stories overshadowed by their royal husband. It’s in this struggle that Six The Musical comes alive, giving these women lost in history another lease on life.
Six is brought to the stage by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, with the duo creating both the Music and Lyrics, on top of the story. Having found huge success in Britain in 2019, the musical made its way to Broadway in 2020. Finally, Six The Musical is making its way through its first North American Tour, with two distinct casts bringing magic and excitement to many cities throughout the country. The Boleyn tour is currently in Detroit, and having seen the show on Broadway a year ago, I couldn’t waste this opportunity to see one of my favorite musicals in my hometown. So without further ado, here’s what Six the Musical the North American Tour has in store for you.
[Warning: spoilers from Six The Musical are below!]
The story of Six The Musical
While Six has a ton of historically accurate facts in it, the show itself is fantasy-esque. Yes, it tells the story of these six women, however in a musical that takes place long after their deaths. In Six, the wives of Henry VIII are joined together not by their husbands, but by their desire to lead the pop group, consisting of the six women (Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Anna of Cleves, and Catherine Parr) and their band.
However, each woman wants to be the lead singer, refusing to share the spotlight with another queen. So how are they supposed to decide? By making it into a competition of course! The queens agree that the audience will decide who will lead the pop group by judging who had it worse with King Henry. And so begins the exciting rollercoaster of emotions as the Queens take the audience along for all the trauma and abuse they suffered.
When Six The Musical is broken down into its core pieces, it could be a depressing show. However, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. In the end, the six wives of Henry VIII discover that they are so much more than what history has decided for them. Together, the queens rewrite their stories, proving just how powerful they are.
A talented cast on the Boleyn Tour
Like many touring shows, Six has two separate casts circulating North America, the Aragon, and the Boleyn Tour. Of the two, the Aragon Tour had an easily more recognizable cast, with past Queens from the West End and Broadway productions. However, both touring casts are filled with talent, regardless of name recognition. Detroit was a stop for the Boleyn Tour, which still has many more upcoming dates, whereas the Aragon Tour seems to be coming to a close soon.
Of the Six Queens at my show last weekend, five were the main stars while one was an alternate, although all six were fantastic in their roles. Beginning the show, as Six the Musical progresses through the Queens in chronological order, was Catherine of Aragon, the first wife whom he divorced during arguably one of the biggest scandals of the English Monarch. Bringing to life her tale of woe in “No Way”, having been dismissed despite remaining loyal to her philandering husband, was alternate Jana Larell Glover. Glover fit right at home among the other queens, filling the studded heels perfectly. The influence of Beyonce was strong in her performance, giving me chills as she hit her high notes.
Up next was Anne Boleyn with her song “Don’t Lose Your Head”, played by Zan Berube. Boleyn is most definitely one of the more memorable wives of Henry, with a relationship that began as an affair. However, not one to be the other woman to Catherine of Aragon, she pushed for the King to divorce his first wife, and start the Church of England. Sounds exhausting I know, but Anne never tires, a fact that she pays for with her head.
Berube brought a different energy to the character, compared to the cast I saw in New York as well as the cast recording album of the West End production. Her portrayal is more Avril Lavigne than a mean girl, which is a slight departure from what I know. That isn’t to say it was bad, in fact, she seems a strong choice for Boleyn, but it showcases how each individual who comes into the role has the ability to play around with their interpretation.
Rounding out the first half of the half-dozen Tutor Queens is Jane Seymour, who has never been one of my favorites. Six The Musical has a ton of upbeat energy, but Seymour’s ballad “Heart of Stone” slows the show down, just before it picks right back up. That being said, I was blown away by Amina Faye’s performance and found a new respect for this song I tend to skip on the album. Faye brings intense emotions to her performance, which gave me chills and made me cry multiple times. If there’s one reason to see this tour when it comes to your town, it’s Amina Faye.
Anna of Cleves is wife number four, who comes from Germany and is rejected for her looks. However, Anna doesn’t seem bothered that the king divorces her. Instead, she sings all about her lavish life in her own palace, getting to do whatever she wants without a man telling her what to do. “Get Down” is the perfect song to groove to, as you can’t help but feel empowered about a strong individual who knows exactly who she is. Terica Marie captures this essence perfectly, drawing thunderous applause at a certain moment in her song.
Number five, with the song “All You Want To Do” is Aline Mayagoitia as Katherine Howard. Howard was the second wife of Henry VIII to be beheaded, a fact that she and Boleyn don’t let you forget.
“All You Want To Do” shows how Katherine was objectified over and over by men, used for her body more than anything else. This song deviates the most from the studio recording, with a healthy dose of emotion as Howard becomes increasingly disenchanted with men and their ways. The closing bit gave me goosebumps and the entire audience was stunned to silence. Mayagoitia did a wonderful job as Katherine, balancing the sexiness instilled in her character and also the pain and frustration towards those who used her for what they believed she could provide.
The show changes drastically though, as Sydney Parra has her moment with “I Don’t Need Your Love”. By the time we reach Parr, the queen isn’t interested in the trauma competition. She wants to be remembered for so much more, for all the positives she brought to the table.
That’s when the show switches gears, into my favorite part of the show. When the queens realize they don’t have to compete, instead sharing the spotlight with each other, the message becomes clear. There’s enough light for each person and we can be one.
The pros and cons of Six The Musical
By this point, you’ve probably assumed that I’m a fan of Six. And you’d be right. I loved this musical before I even saw it in New York a year ago. I developed a strong connection with it from a Tik Tok and obsessively listened to the soundtrack from that point on. So for me, seeing Six live is nothing sort of a religious experience. When the purple curtains pull back, those queens are my gods.
Too much? Perhaps so, but that is the pull this show has on me and everyone I’ve spoken to that has seen it as well. It’s easy to become enraptured by the intoxicating nature of the show. That is largely due to the fantastic songs that move the show quickly from one queen to another.
However, the show isn’t long to begin with, clocking in at around 88 minutes. The short length and the excellent production value make Six The Musical easily digestible and enjoyable. The songs are also more approachable, in a similar vein to shows like Hamilton and & Juliet, rather than The Music Man or Into the Woods.
That being said, the show deals with some heavy trauma, some of which may be difficult for viewers to talk about. Sexual assault, miscarriages, general abuse, and the list goes on. The show doesn’t come with a trigger warning, which could be because they try to keep Six light and funny. However, for some, these topics could bring up negative feelings.
As well, because of the before-mentioned topics as well as the general sexual nature weaved throughout the show, Six isn’t necessarily a show for all ages. During my show time, there were quite a few young children there, but it felt inappropriate for those younger than 13.
Overall, Six The Musical is a strong show, one that I believe all adults should experience at least once in their life. Personally, I’ll be checking it out every time it comes to Detroit. Even if you don’t usually enjoy musicals, with how short Six is and music that appeals to a wider audience than traditional musical songs, it’s definitely worth a chance. And the only disappointment you’ll have by the time the show is over is that you’ll have to wait a while until it returns to your city so you can see it again.
Six The Musical is currently touring North America! Have you seen it? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!