I have to begin by professing that, like the musical SIX, we do have a bit of history with it and probably a little biased. The truth is, here at SOUTH WALES LIFE we love us a bit of SIX – and no, that’s no euphemism for anything else.
Stick with us and maybe you’ll be converted too and want to see the show/concert when it arrives in South Wales. This is its second appearance at the Wales Millennium Centre, and I can tell you, last time, every single person in the sell out show was converted to this unique experience.
SIX is a British musical through and through. The book, music and lyrics are by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. They say the best ideas happen by accident and it seems this was a very happy one. Toby was studying in his final year at Cambridge University, and despite uncertainties from collaborator Lucy, the pair wrote the musical while studying for their final exams. Seriously, if you’re going to do something as your final Uni piece you may as well go on and turn it into a full-on, live show.
Before we go any further you need to watch the trailer. If I say it’s a modern telling of the SIX wives of Henry the Eighth there’s a fair chance I’ll lose you as quickly as Henry had his wives beheaded. So take a look at the trailer below and you’ll see it’s absolutely nothing like the history lesson any of us had at school.
As you can see, the musical is a modern retelling of the lives of Henry’s SIX wives, yes it is a musical, but what makes this so different is that it’s presented as a pop concert. The wives burst onto stage, do a song together first, then take turns singing and telling their story to see who had the worst time with Henry, and ultimately become the group’s lead singer. Spoiler alert – they all had a pretty rubbish time with him.
If you think we currently have an interesting Monarchy, believe us, it’s nothing like the time of the larger-than-life character of King Henry VIII (1509-47). To say he dazzled would be an understatement. He founded a national church, transformed government, built a strong Navy and encouraged a flourishing of the arts. He’s mostly remembered for the extraordinary marital merry-go-round that saw him wed six wives in his quest for a male heir (and ideally a spare) to secure the Tudor dynasty on England’s throne.
If there had been Social Media in Tudor Times, then Henry would have ruled that too.
But what of those six wives, almost hidden in Henry’s monstrous shadow and recalled less by name than by their fates summed up in the well-known rhyme: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived? Far from the puppets implied, each is a fascinating flesh-and-blood figure and each dealt differently with Henry and the challenges they faced. The consequences determined the course of royal history.
Enter SIX-THE MUSICAL………..
I’m telling you now, it is brilliant, although we nearly didn’t get to see it at all. The team here we’re in London for a charity performance of The Lieutenant of Inishmore with Aidan Turner (Poldark) and with an evening free, we’d heard great things about this new musical SIX. So with no idea what to expect, and knowing very little about it, went to see it at the Arts Theatre (very small venue in Covent Garden).
Johan Perrson’s photographs feature the cast from the last tour. The new casting will be announced soon. As we introduce you to the girls it gives us a chance to put the wives into context.
- Lauren Drew as Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536): Demoted for Bearing No Son
- Maddison Bulleyment as Anne Boleyn (c. 1501-1536): The Union That Sparked Reformation, Beheaded
- Lauren Byrne as Jane Seymour Jane Seymour (1508-1537): Died After Giving Birth to Male Heir
- Shekinah McFarlane as Anne of Cleves (1515-1557): Strategic, Six-Month Marriage
- Jodie Steele as Catherine Howard (1523-1542): Treasured, Then Executed
- Athena Collins as Catherine Parr (1512-1548): Peacemaker Who Outlived Henry (Officially called Katharine Parre)
He had a brief extra-marital affair with Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount, one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting. In 1519, Bessie was taken in secret to the Essex countryside where she gave birth to Henry Fitzroy, Henry’s only acknowledged illegitimate child.
As you read the story of Henry and his wives you cannot believe what went on, and what one person was capable of doing. The History Channel have a really good, yet brief insight, which you can read HERE. Seriously, forget any of your current gossip magazines, his life is the real deal.
Back to the show, which is non-stop from start to finish. The cast are funny, with incredible voices and the band (all female) make the most amazing sound. We didn’t know any of the songs but in the tradition of great musicals, that didn’t matter. Each of them was instantly catchy and told, what is a very dark story, perfectly. Surprisingly, and this is by no way a criticism, the show/gig was just over an hour long. The girls entered, sang and conquered. Job done.
Those of us who have seen SIX have raved about it to anyone who shows an interest. We were at the Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in the year SIX was nominated – five times in fact, including Best New Musical. The Wives also performed on the evening. I can tell you the audience went crazy when Jason Manford introduced the girls and again after their performance. In fact, have a look for yourself…
You can make up your own mind when SIX comes to the Wales Millennium Centre next month. Whether you’re seeing it for the first or sixth time, we guarantee you’ll have a corset busting evening. These Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 80-minute celebration of sassy sisterhood. It’s here between the 8th and 19th June 2021, a longer run than their previous visit. For more details and ticket information, go here. SIX
Seriously, do yourself a favour and see it. This is one history lesson you won’t regret.
If you are going to London and want to catch the show when it reopens at the Lyric Theatre in November, then back to its usual home at the Arts Theatre from next March, just go here for details. SIX LONDON
SIX is now a worldwide phenomenon selling out in the West End, on its UK Tour, at the Sydney Opera House and reigning on Broadway. During lockdown the SIX team performed the most amazing number from the show, all from home. When we say there was a cast of thousands, we really mean it. Three thousand if we’re being precise.