Do you love pop diva concerts with choreography and confetti cannons? Do you like your musical theater slightly non-traditional with a slice of self-awareness? Are you a history nerd for Pre-Elizabethan Renaissance England? Can you find delight in sparkly Tudor-style mini-dresses and ankle boots?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you should go see SIX!! The U.K. stage musical opened on November 29th and will play through December 22nd at The Ordway in St. Paul.
Tickets are still available HERE.
SIX, the unconventional and popular musical created by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. The show has since enjoyed different stagings and casts in the U.K., North America, and soon, Australia. This cast and staging -directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage- premiered in Chicago earlier this year and will head to Broadway in 2020. Their month-long residency in St. Paul is part of the 2019-2020 Broadway at the Ordway series.
The show is framed as a concert with a four-piece live band -“The Ladies in Waiting”- backing a vocal group comprised of the six ill-fated wives of King Henry VIII of England. Generally, a musical needs some kind of plot. In this case, each wife competes through song for audience approval to become the leader of the group (a nod perhaps to how historians, for centuries, have argued over which wife was most significant). Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleeves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr each take a turn at the mic and a different pop genre. (Jane gets the Adele-ballad, Anna gets the braggadocious hip-hop-ish number.)
Sororal solidarity and feminism fortunately get the better of the ladies in the end, and the pop fun is grounded in social critique and a couple of truly poignant moments.
Catherine Parr’s weighty “I Don’t Need Your Love” might be the show’s climax -and is deftly handled by Anna Uzele. However, in the December 3rd performance, Katherine Howards’ preceding number may have stolen the show. Samantha Pauly delivered a knockout rendition of Howards’ solo, “All You Wanna Do” -a song about sex with a chorus that takes on a new, darker meaning each time it’s sung. Pauly ended the piece with such anguish that no one in the audience could clap. In that moment, applause felt disrespectful to Howards’ trauma.
The whole cast is really stellar and deservedly received a hearty standing ovation on the 3rd. Set, Lights, and Costumes are all slick as can be. The band sounds amazing. The Pre-show harpsichord arrangements of contemporary pop songs was a nice touch. One shouldn’t pick a favorite, but a special shout-out is due to Andrea Macasaet for giving us the sassy Anne Boleyn we never knew we needed.
SIX runs around 80 minutes with no intermission. Go see it now and hold bragging rights over your East Coast friends before The Wives hit Broadway next year.