Image: Arts Theatre
Renée Lamb (Catherine of Aragon)
Christina Modestou (Anne Boleyn)
Natalie Paris (Jane Seymour)
Genesis Lynea (Anna of Cleves)
Aimie Atkinson (Katherine Howard)
Izuka Hoyle (Catherine Parr)
From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII sing their way out of the history books and into the spotlight.
With songs including Ex Wives, Haus of Holbein and Don't Lose Ur Head, this pop concert remixes five hundred years of historical heartbreak into one hour of 21st century sass.
If you thought this show was all about one man - you thought wrong!
We all know about the famous six wives of Henry VIII.
Even if we can't remember all their names and the exact order in which they married their overbearing, over-eating husband, we've all been laboriously taught about them at some point during our school days.
What makes them special and intriguing is that there were six of them - and also that some of them died in rather unpleasant ways.
Unfortunately, the six wives never had the opportunity in real life to meet as a complete group to compare notes about their cantankerous royal hubbie - well, they never met until now, that is.
Six is a musical which creates a gathering the likes of which history could never have accomplished, bringing together all six wives of Henry VIII under one roof at the same time.
Now you can forget the idea of historical costumes, or a draughty, austere sixteenth century setting.
Six makes no attempt to recreate the royal palaces of the times, or anything approaching them.
Here, the six women are, quite simply, themselves for this is a concert show employing a pretty bare stage with a small but punchy band at the back and room for the wives to strut their stuff at the front.
And strut their stuff is pretty much the correct description because the essential set-up for this short musical is that the wives decide to see whose life was most, well, 'miserable' I suppose is the correct expression.
The cast of Six - photo by Dan Wooller
That means that each gets the chance to tell her story - through song - of how she came to be married to the haughty Henry.
Each of the well-chosen cast can easily hold her own in the vocal department with plenty of power on offer, and the ensemble singing is equally impressive.
Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow's dynamic and appealing songs deliver the essential variety and distinctive tone for each of the characters, as well as providing a melodically interesting mix of rock and pop with some slower numbers offsetting the more upbeat ones.
There's quite a strong flavour of bitchy humour in the dialogue with some neat jokes - often directed at husband Henry - and director Lotte Wakeham takes advantage of the characterisations and context to add astute touches of comedy with suitable looks and movement.
The idea of a musical about the six wives of Henry VIII might not sound like such a wonderful idea, but actually Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss managed to latch-on to a really neat idea, picking-up on the fact that the fame and notoriety of the wives depends not on their own personalities or, in some cases, the hideous nature of their deaths, but in the fact that Henry had SIX marriages.
Running just a little more than an hour, this is pretty-much the perfect length for the format - it never gets to the point of running out of steam either in terms of the overall concept or the quality of the musical numbers.
The sad news is that Six has now completed its short run at the Arts Theatre - but I suspect it won't be long before it's back.
And it's certainly worth keeping a look-out for if you're the sort of person who likes something fresh and novel in the musical theatre department, because this is a show where text-book history is given a refreshingly fun and vigorously inventive 21st century makeover.
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ActDrop listing for Arts Theatre
Our show listing for Six
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