Six the Musical at Vaudeville Theatre
Glamorous, sassy and vocally powerful, the six ex-wives of King Henry VIII dominate the stage of the Vaudeville Theatre with grandeur and contagious energy. After its official opening in the West End in 2019, Six the Musical returns to central London and reprises the UK and Ireland tour that was interrupted by the pandemic. And it is a sparkling and exciting comeback.
The history books talk extensively about Henry VIII and his pivotal role in establishing the Protestant Church in England, often swiftly listing the six women who ascended to the throne at his side and then subsequently exited the narrative for one reason or another. But who actually made history (or should we say “her-story”)? The man whose motives had to be listened to and various whims satisfied due to being the monarch? Or his wives, who had relocated from their own countries and were left at the mercy of those whims? Here, it’s the female characters who take centre stage for the night and compete for the audience’s verdict on who is most deserving of the title of queen.
Writers Tony Marlow and Lucy Moss revamp the six protagonists with a super contemporary, shimmering look, as well as bring their language and personal stories into the modern era. Through catchy songs, the story of their lives are told, not only in a beautifully melodic way but also highlighting the repression and particular low points of their existences, providing food for thought on the various problems that may affect the modern woman. For example, through Henry’s relationship with Katherine Howard (Sophie Isaacs), we see the objectification of physical beauty without real affectionate attachment, in the case of Jane Seymour (Collette Guitart), the strong stand of a loving wife despite the husband’s coarse character and as emerges with Catherine Parr (Danielle Steers), rejection for a mismatch between one’s “digital” profile and real life.
The voices are terrific, inducing goosebumps throughout, with solos that vary in depth and genre. The choreography is often thrown in as a fun addition, but it doesn’t always provide valid support: at times it’s somewhat bland, leaning on the vocals to fill the gap. The ending would also benefit from a tightening of the script, as the sudden slowing of the pace, pauses and faked hesitancy halt the crescendo reached so far and risk toning down the impact of the finale.
Opening with total Spice Girls concert vibes, Six the Musical delivers a mix of genres: it’s part musical, part music show. The “extra” tone and cheekiness is highly entertaining – although it may not be for everyone. The queens’ flamboyant and perky personalities excitingly engage the audience, who cannot resist standing up to dance to the last song’s beats.
Photo: Pamela Raith
Six the Musical is at Vaudeville Theatre from 29th September until 1st May 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.