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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Review of Six the Musical - a new cast in London for 2023

Six was written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and has played in London's West End, on Broadway, toured the UK, North America and Australia, and opens in Amsterdam September 2023. The show even had a wonderful short run at Hampton Court Palace itself last summer.

Somehow, I hadn't managed to get to see it in London previously, so was delighted to invited to review the new London cast. The new cast features Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as Catherine of Aragon, Baylie Carson as Anne Boleyn, Claudia Kariuki as Jane Seymour, Dionne Ward-Anderson as Anna of Cleves, Koko Basigara as Katherine Howard, and Roxanne Couch as Catherine Parr.

There will be few English children who didn't learn the short rhyme to help then remember the fates of the six wives of Henry VIII:

Divorced, beheaded, died,

Divorced, beheaded, survived.

In fact the cast state right that we'll remember them from our GCSEs. Six the Musical sets out to turn the passivity of accepting these fates into something dynamic, as each of the Queens take to the mic to sing their tale. The show isn't really a musical in the traditional sense — it’s really more of a girl-powered concert and runs for only 80 minutes.

Initially the Queens start a battle of who had the endure the worst from King Henry, with a cheeky Anne Boleyn constantly reminding the other Queens about the loss of her head and it really can't be worse than that.

The cast of Six the Musical in the song 'Haus of Holbein'. They wear fluorescent sunglasses and ruffs.  Photo credit Pamela Raith
The cast of Six the Musical in the song 'Haus of Holbein'. Photo credit Pamela Raith

Each Queen gets her solo, think Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Rhianna, Alicia Keys, with the other Queens proving the backing vocals and the Ladies in Waiting (the 4 piece all female band) providing the music live on stage. The dance routines are snappy, and the lyrics although pop-pastiche, are funny.

Dionne Ward-Anderson as Anne of Cleaves surrounded by the other 5 Queens on stage
Dionne Ward-Anderson as Anne of Cleaves. Photo credit Pamela Raith

For me, the stand-out Queen, was Anna of Cleaves who had no regrets about being divorced. She got a palace in Richmond and a ton of money - why should she be unhappy? Her song, the 'Haus of Holbein' was a weird mix of house and oompa, but was by far the wittiest in the piece.

In the end Katherine Parr questions why they have spent 80% of their time in competition with each other, instead of recognising that actually Henry's fame as a King rested upon them, not the other way around. And that they should celebrate their strengths, not compete as to who had had the most miscarriages (this was genuinely a moment in the musical) and generally be on the receiving end of the worst treatment.

Finale of Sic teh Musical - all 6 Queens on stage in triumphant pose
Finale of Six the Musical. Photo credit Pamela Raith

This is far from a feminist re-imaging of these women's stories. It's light, fun and frothy. As one of the audience near me said, "That was way too much fun for a Tuesday night". Expect to join in with the enthusiastic audience as they give a standing ovation to these Queens of the West End.

The musical score has been shortlisted for 2023 GRAMMY Awards for Best Musical Theatre Album, recorded at the opening night on Broadway, it's subsequently been streamed over 23 million times, which is pretty incredible. Meanwhile, the original UK Studio Cast Recording achieved gold status in 2021. Wish them luck for the awards which take place on 5th February.

When: SIX is currently booking to Sunday 29 October, 2023

Performance Times

Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 8pm Thursday 5.30pm & 8.30pm Saturday 4pm & 8pm Sunday 4pm & 7pm

Duration: 80 minutes - no interval

Age recommendation: 10+

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult

Where: Vaudeville Theatre

404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH

Tickets: Box office: 0330 333 4814

Ticket prices from £19.50

Nearest Tube: Charing Cross


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