Review: “Six the Musical” - SEC, Glasgow/Arts Theatre, London

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Lewis Baird

  • United Kingdom Critic

“Hamilton the Musical” is currently taking over the planet, being a contemporary musical with an incredible score, while also educating the world about how America was established, with some messages on diversity and race mixed in there too. Unfortunately, due to some of us being too busy and broke to see Hamilton, there has been whisperings of a low-costing ticket alternative, which has the potential of being just as big a hit.

The musical in question? It’s called, “Six”, and it’s based on the story of the six wives of Henry VIII. It has been said to be the best musical during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. This musical is heading to London in January 2019 and is also transferring across to Chicago, in the USA next year as well. So, with that being said, I headed across to Glasgow, with some of my theatre colleagues, to see this musical in a limited run at the Scottish Event Campus, and find out if this 75-minute musical lived up to the hype.

Henry VIII’s wives are Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr, in this musical they tell you the story of how they came to meet Henry VIII, plus their fate after marriage. All of this while also competing on who is the best queen. This full musical is performed in the style of a concert, meaning that there is minimum dialogue and the story is told through the remarkably luminous and apt music.

Artistically, this musical is pretty sound, directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, the pair manage to create the feel of a girl power group, while still allowing the emotion from the lyrics to break through and tell a story very aptly. The characters are heightened, which is clearly shown for comic effect, but there is a good balance so that the emotional ballads are performed without the comical satire and more to land the emotion from the true story. Their direction is complimented by the swift choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, minimalistic yet affective set design by Emma Bailey, glorious costume design by Gabriella Shade and dazzling lighting design by Tim Deiling. Lucy Moss also wrote this musical with Toby Marlow. In regards to music, with the help of Joe Beighton as musical supervisor, plus Katy Richardson as musical director, there is a very good balance in comic music with, uplifting hits and slow ballads. The one thing which creatively flaws this musical is some of the dialogue in between the music. It seems very forced, and at times it doesn’t necessarily mirror the character that radiates from the music and lyrics. Something about the dialogue feels unfulfilling and unfinished, perhaps in later productions it will be adapted. However, overall this musical is its own original being, which is filled with great, powerful female characters and carries not only a history lesson but a message of females uniting, rather than clashing. The music in this musical hits every note, there isn’t a bad number featured, which has such varied contemporary styles, while telling the story of these historic figures, and they are all performed by a powerhouse of a cast.

The cast for this musical are insane, the six woman involved give this show the energy and passion it needs the musical needs, to drive it to success. They all do this while clearly working very well together, especially in “Haus of Holbein”, the audience was gone, literally everyone was laughing.

The audience for the performance I attended were gifted with seeing the show’s one swing, Grace Mouat, as Catherine of Aragon. She supplied great vocals and passion, during a marvelous performance of “No Way” This girl must have one hell of a memory to perform this part so seamlessly when Grace also knows the rest of dialogue and lyrics for the other five characters, simply remarkable. Millie O’Connell is hilariously devilish as Anne Boleyn, the naughty comic side that Millie supplies to this character not only lifts the satirical style of this musical, but also supplies a pretty accurate portrayal of how Henry VIII’s Britain seen her. Also, her performance of “Don’t Lose Ur Head” is great, the journey that supplies to Anne, makes the audience love her even more. Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour, delivers raw emotion in her stunning performance of “Heart of Stone”, it’s the main ballad in this musical, and Natalie provides a gentle portrayal with such vulnerability, yet a sense of power in her passion, it was a beautiful performance.

Alexia McIntosh slays the stage as Anna of Cleaves, she gave the audience wit and power all in her tremendous performance of “Get Down”, while giving us one hell of a diva in her portrayal of Anna. Aimie Atkinson also gave us sass, confidence, plus a very dominant and energetic performance as Katherine Howard in “All You Wanna Do”. She also gave the vocal skill similar to the West End leading lady, Kerry Ellis. Finally, last but definitely not least, Maiya Quansah-Breed, supplied humanity and honesty as Catherine Parr, leading the girls into becoming a harmonious group, this was a very endearing performance.

Also, a very notable shout out needs to go to the ladies in waiting, the band! They comprised of associate musical director, Alene McNaught, drums played by Alice Angliss, guitar played by Amy Shaw and bass played by Terri De Marco. Girls you smashed it.

This musical really does manage to tell the true(ish) events of these historic figures in such a contemporary way, via the nine varied pieces of music, which work as a great device to tell these stories in such a fabulous way, plus are performed by six incredible actresses. I truly believe that this is a greatly accessible musical, which will appeal to all of those who have grown up in the era of the girl bands. Plus, any musical theatre fan is going to lap up this production and appreciate the talent that is shown from the performers, and the creatives. This production also definitely classes as a superb, low costing ticket, British alternative to “Hamilton”, especially with the way they executed (excuse the pun) telling a true historic tale. The only thing which lets it down slightly, is the small amount of dialogue that is featured.  If you can’t get tickets to “Hamilton” in London, or want a fabulous show to see from this January to May, then get your tickets to see these Six girls, divorced, beheaded and live! “Six the Musical” is an absolute hit which is guaranteed to soar wherever it runs.

Below is the information about the show's venues in Glasgow, London and also eventually there will information about its arrival in Chicago.

https://www.sixthemusical.com/ticket-info

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRY_zEYslWc