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Six, The Musical (2022)

SIX, The Musical. Book, Lyrics and Music by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, at the Theatre Royal, Sydney. Originally Produced by Kenny Wax, Wendy & Andy Barnes, and George Stiles. Produced in Australia by Louise Withers, Michael Coppe, and Linda Berwick. 26th August-1st October, 2022.

SIX The Musical is back.

I first saw it in February, 2019, a few years ago (review here), in the Studio at the Sydney Opera House. It has, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, survived the battering and postponements of cancellations of performances to bounce back here in Sydney and to some of the rest of Australia. It has swept back into the West End in London and all round the UK and onto New York, Broadway, where it won two Tony Awards for Best Original Score (Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss) and Best Costume Design (Gabriella Slade). 4 Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Musical.

SIX, The Musical has book, lyrics and music by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. It is Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage and choreographed by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. Set Design is by Emma Bailey, Costume Design is by Gabrielle Slade, Lighting Design by Tim Deiling and Sound Design is by Paul Gatehouse. The Orchestrator is Tom Curranad Musical Supervisor is Joe Beighton.

Last night at the Theatre Royal an excited audience, some dressed in costume, some in cutting edge fashion, the rest of us in ‘daggy’ support, witnessed an audience cheer and shout throughout the performance of SIX, giving evidence that the theatre is not dead, it is alive to the contemporary pulse of the young, swept to a roaring thanks and noisy standing ovation and encore as the final explosion of gold ‘rain’ fell into the auditorium.

Six, The Musical tells the stories of the six wives of the Tudor King Henry VIII. It is told without a man in sight. Henry and all the other men have been expelled, for this is HERstory, not HIStory. Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Six ‘glorious’ women appear on a contemporary Set design that is a hyper replica of a Pop Concert stage, with all of its attendant Lighting options (tricks!) of flashing and pulsing pay-attention distractions to ensure that we, the audience, are never left to dream-off. This is a 75-minute, no-interval romping race to its end and we are magnificently manipulated to chase what is happening – no sleeping possible. Besides, the Musical Score is inspired by the canon of music divas, such as the likes of Adele, Lily Allen and Ariana Grande. Music that permits the lyrics the aural space, with microphones in hand, to tell of the dilemmas of each woman. Music that is still a bombastic blast that will certainly prevent sleep is directed from the stage in back-up, by Claire Healey with Heidi Maguire, Kathryn Stammers, Debbie Yap and Ann Metry. It is ever present in its support and contribution.

These six women are dressed “to kill” in costumes that are a flashy steam-punk adaption of the historical Tudor look, combined with the contemporary rock concert expectation, merely but wittily, referencing some of the iconic dress of the 16th century Queens. These costumes give room, flexibility, for these “Queens” to be able to fit the relentlessly demanding energetic choreography, that are both ensemble and character compilations, visual clues, to illustrate  the temperament and place of origin of each of these women: the Spanish Queen Catherine of Aragon (Phoenix Jackson Mendoza), the first English Queen Anne Boleyn (Kala Gare), the second English Queen Jane Seymour (Loren Hunter), the German Queen Anne of Cleves (Kiana Daniele), the third English Queen Katherine Howard (Chelsea Dawson), and the last English Queen Catherine Parr (Vidya Makan).

All of the performances seem effortlessly to capture the audience and career it into an ecstatic response. Take the young and know that the theatre experience will become a part of their inheritance. It’s look, it’s sound, its tongue -in- cheek humour, it’s storytelling, it’s unflagging energy makes SIX a Ten. Do go.