The West End sensation “Six the Musical” has been making waves since its first tour in 2019 and since coming across the pond to Broadway, has become a global phenomenon. “Six” is a re-telling of her-story as Henry VIII’s ex-wives become pop princesses competing for the lead singer of the group. With its Broadway run winning two Tony Awards in its debut season of 2021, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020, I stumbled upon some “slime tutorials” of the Broadway previews and found myself absolutely obsessed with the live show. “Six” has been winning audiences across North America over with royal riffs, powerful performances and an incredible message about femme empowerment. The hit Broadway show comes to the Broward Center from Oct 11-23 with tickets available here.
It is easy to compare the show to the musical juggernaut “Hamilton” for their juxtaposition of pop music with historical narratives, but the shows could not be any more different. “Hamilton” operates under the guise of “telling the story of America yesterday by America today,” Clocking in at 90 minutes, “Six” packs a punch in the hour and a half the performers have on stage, with each queen taking turns singing lead save for a few group numbers. “Six” fundamentally understands the show is a concert, using history as a framework and flipping it on its head, rather than claiming to be any faithful telling of history. The Histo-remix approach explicitly states that this show is a revamped rendition of what happened to the ill-fated wives. While the show similarly color-blind casts its queens, the creators Marlow and Moss have allowed for some of the most diverse casting in a Broadway and touring company possible, featuring women of color, queer people and actors of different body types to play each queen, sticking to an ethos of the energy of the performer rather than any outward characteristics.
The show’s approach to turning Henry VIII’s ex-wives into pop princesses takes such a calculated route into the archetypes for each star they’re emulating the energy of. As stan culture pits women pop stars against one another at the pulpit of stardom, the metaphor becomes more apt for its historical figures. As the queens take sarcastic jabs at each other, comparing arbitrary traumas of their lives, the viewer is confronted with the grim humor of how we view pop stardom. Catherine of Aragon as “Formation Tour” Beyonce fits like a glove for the devoted wife who learned of her husband’s infidelity. Katherine Howard works so well through the lens of a young pop star like Britney Spears or Ariana Grande in the reality that Howard met the king in her teen years, only to be beheaded in her early 20s. Costume designer Gabriella Slade’s Tony-winning attire for the queens has so much intricate detail portraying each historical figure on stage clad in leather and vinyl.
With the Broadway and West End original casts now either mostly or entirely replaced, the Aragon tour cast features some talent that has graced the Great White Way and others making their debuts on tour. As Catherine of Aragon, Khalia Wilcoxon nails the Beyonce Formation tour energy with high-belting riffs, spectacular dance moves and a total middle finger to the unfaithful man who put a ring on it. Storm Lever’s Anne Boleyn has a more sultry, R&B approach to the pop punk tune that leans more towards the Lily Allen influence of the character. An underrated highlight of the show is the track “Heart of Stone” which slows the high-energy pace of the show to a halt with the heart-wrenching ballad about the devotion of Jane Seymour. Jasmine Forsberg, making her North American Tour debut, uses every iota of her energy to deliver some of the strongest acting choices in her dialogue and in her featured song that shockingly brings me to tears. An absolute showstopper, Olivia Donalson as Anne of Cleeves has an influence of Nicki Minaj, but her brash stage presence and perhaps its the baroque rendition of “Truth Hurts” playing over the loudspeakers in the pre-show but Donalson served some Lizzo vibes. With a tall order to tie the show together to its emotional climax, Gabriela Carillo’s Cathy Parr has a bit of Sia in her vocal delivery and the acting chops to drive the show home.
“Six” is a smash hit on Broadway and its tour across North America. With sensational hooks for days, dazzling costumes and a heartwarming message about women uplifting each other, the show is an incredible time at the theater. Come and Get Down with the queens of “Six” at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts now until October 23, where the show transfers to the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.