After a year-long shutdown in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the joyous Broadway musical SIX is finally here. The excitement of the long-awaited opening night has been immortalized on their new Broadway cast recording SIX: LIVE ON OPENING NIGHT, out now.
The show’s structure is inspired by Beyoncé’s 2011 project, Live at Roseland: Elements of 4, weaving storytelling and concert performance elements. It’s a must-see if you’re into pop music, head-turning fashion, and 16th-century monarch history.
SIX gives unique voices to the six wives of King Henry VIII: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. But this chapter of the story is omitted from history textbooks.
The Tudor Queens are reimagined as diverse, empowered “Pop Princesses” competing for the lead spot of an exhilarating girl group backed by an all-female, on stage band called “The Ladies In Waiting.” The rules? “The Queen that was dealt the worst hand shall be the one to lead the band.”
The contemporary pop “Queenspirations” behind the six personas can be easily identified as each wife belts out their respective “histo-remix,” describing their heartbreaking experiences with the King. The famous rhyme chanted across British classrooms during history lessons about the Tudor King and his spouses is as follows: “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.”
The pack leader, first wife Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks), kicks things off with a rebellious, Beyoncé-style tune, “No Way,” describing the moments that led up to the annulment of their marriage. She proudly wears her title as Queen, despite being mistreated and her husband being connected to three historically documented affairs. However, his second wife Anne Boleyn (Andrea Macasaet) feels she suffered more as the beheaded wife as she insists in her whimsical, Avril Lavigne-esque song, “Don’t Lose Ur Head.”
Jane Seymour (originated by Abby Mueller & currently played by Keri René Fuller) sings her solo next, but takes the Céline Dion route in her ballad, “Heart of Stone.” Jane’s relationship with the King wasn’t as toxic as his other marriages. Still, she’s aware he was more affectionate with her because she gave birth to his long-awaited heir. Jane died of natural causes, which his fourth wife Anna of Cleves (Brittney Mack) doesn’t think was as traumatic as being accused of seemingly catfishing the King. Henry sought her out all the way from Germany after seeing her portrait, but she gets rejected for her looks after they meet IRL. Anna keeps the vibrations high though, gushing about her time as the “Queen of the castle” in her rap “Get Down.”
Fifth wife Katherine Howard (played by Samantha Pauly) unfortunately missed the memo. Once Henry was through with her and accused her of adultery and treason, it was off with her head. One of her pop “Queenspirations” is clearly Ariana Grande from the looks of the flowing, pink ombré ponytail. Katherine has a youthful charm to emulate the real-life Queen who was just a teenager when she married the then-49-year-old King. She sings about the lack of deep emotional connection throughout her marriage in her song, “All You Wanna Do.”
Catherine Parr (originated by Anna Uzele & currently played by Joy Woods) brings it all home with her empowering single “I Don’t Need Your Love.” Influenced by the likes of Alicia Keys, her song centers on how she wishes to retell her story, separate from the King (“Why should that story be the one I have to sing about just to win? I’m out.”)
It’s impossible to keep still throughout the 80-minute show as the mega voices and catchy lyrics transform the Brooks Atkinson Theatre into the Queendom.
But the fun doesn’t end at the theatre: The electric, concert-like atmosphere is captured on the new live album.
“These Queens are pop stars doing a pop concert night after night, so we had to ask ourselves the all important question: what would Beyoncé do?” said SIX co-creators Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss on the decision to put out a live album. “We wanted to capture that buzz, that electric atmosphere that can only be created by a group of pop royalty stepping out onstage in front of an audience of squealing fans… So we decided to do something (we think?!) no one has done before: record and release our cast’s opening night on Broadway.”