I feel by now most people who love a bit of musical theatre are well versed in the musical SIX. We have loved the show long before it became the unstoppable force of theatrical nature that it now is, so forgive us for being overly biased with this feature. The truth is, here at SOUTH WALES LIFE we love us a bit of SIX.
We were lucky enough to see the show right at the start of its West-End run – small theatre, great seats and a show like no other. To this day we rave about SIX to anyone who will listen.
Stick with us and maybe you’ll be converted too and want (need) to see the show/concert when it arrives in South Wales. It returns to the Wales Millennium Centre in August and is back in January next year at the Swansea Arena. I can tell you on it’s first visit to Swansea the venue last October, it was absolutely sold out. So get to the bottom of the page for all the ticket details.
Once seen, never forgotten. SIX is like nothing you’ve witnessed on stage before and the fans of the show are like audiences you’ll not see anywhere else. In fact, take a look at both our reviews from last year.
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.
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.
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.
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 really can’t 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.
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……….. (Previous Tour photos by Pamela Raith and Manuel Harlan).
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 above feature the cast, and now the full tour line up is in place, let’s introduce you to the girls to put the wives into context.
- NICOLE LOUISE LEWIS as Catherine of Aragon Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536): Demoted for Bearing No Son
- LAURA DAWN PYATT as Anne Boleyn (c. 1501-1536): The Union That Sparked Reformation, Beheaded
- ERIN CALDWELL as Jane Seymour Jane Seymour (1508-1537): Died After Giving Birth to Male Heir
- KENEDY SMALL as Anne of Cleves (1515-1557): Strategic, Six-Month Marriage
- LOU HENRY as Katherine Howard (1523-1542): Treasured, Then Executed
- AOIFE HAAKENSON as Catherine Parr (1512-1548): Peacemaker Who Outlived Henry (Officially called Katharine Parre)
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 South Wales. 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 at the Wales Millennium Centre from Tuesday 8th to Saturday 12th August. Performances start at 8pm with early shows on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets stars at £19.50 and you can get more details and ticket information HERE
SIX then returns to Swansea Arena in 2024 from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 14th January – what a way to bring in the New Year. Performances again are at 8pm with earlier shows on Friday and Saturday. As we said, tickets went really quickly so we suggest you get yours now. For more details go HERE.
Seriously, do yourself a favour and see it. This is one history lesson you won’t regret.
SIX is now a worldwide phenomenon selling out in the West End, where it has a four year long residency, 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.