Fresh off being nominated for 5 Olivier Awards, I was so excited to revisit Six this past week. I absolutely loved the production last year and I’m so thrilled that Six is back in London on an open-ended run. Written by Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss, Six follows the six wives of Henry VIII who, essentially, become the next best girlband. They decide to have a competition amongst themselves to see who had the most tragic experience with Henry. Six is an absolute masterpiece of a musical that brings history into the 21st century for a millennial audience. Here is why, I think, Six gives hope to the future of musical theatre.
The female experience is at the centre.
Something the show does very cleverly is that it nails its self awareness. Yes the queens start off being in competition with each other, but it doesn’t mean it has to continue staying that way. I’ve experienced this a lot in my life. Perhaps this is driven by the patriarchy pitting women against each other but it happens far too often. There’s no female-identifying person on the Earth who hasn’t experienced or perpetuated internalised misogyny. The importance of this is recognising it and allowing yourself to reduce the amount it happens. And this is represented in Six. But not just this, Six doesn’t shy away from the tragedy the queens had to go through, covering off miscarriages, adultery and even being beheaded. (Shocker!)
The score sounds like a 21st century pop album.
Seamlessly blending a mixture of styles using inspiration from a variety of female artists, Six uses the history of the six queens and makes them into bangers. Name me another musical that uses (but not just includes) Beyonce, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj as inspiration for a score in a musical. Taylor Swift wrote an article recently about the importance being personal in a pop song and although Marlow & Moss aren’t writing for/about themselves, they include enough personality of the queens into the songs that the audience can feel an instant connection with them.
A diverse all female identifying cast.
This cast is absolutely out of this world. A diverse group of women of different races, body shapes and backgrounds all of whom have vocals to die for. Although I had seen all 6 principal queens on my last trip to Six, I was super thrilled to get a chance to see one of the new alternates in a role she doesn’t usually alternate! Courtney Stapleton was a wonderful Jane Seymour and her Heart of Stone was moving. There really isn’t a weak link in the cast. You can tell how much they all enjoy working and performing together, the joy radiates off of them. This, to me, is what a feminist musical looks like. It’s easy in feminism to just start at the top where men are on the same level as women. But people fail to put women of colour on the same pedestals as white women. So it’s fantastic to see them all on an equal level in the cast of Six. And I think this is what makes their joint Best Supporting Actress in a Musical nomination all that more excellent.
Six is genuinely fantastic and it’s so great to see a British musical about women thrive. Here’s to more success! For tickets and more information please visit https://www.sixthemusical.com
Until next time,