Tuesday 11th October 2022 at the Grand Opera House, York
It’s no secret that Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss have created a powerhouse super hit with Six, a show which has seen great success at home and abroad, has been decorated with various awards and is in possession of one of the loudest and most passionate fandoms new work could ever hope to inspire. It turns out that the hype is absolutely warranted – this show not only delivers a superb 80 minutes of song, laughter and sassy stage presence, it celebrates the infinite strength and resilience of women too. What’s not to love?
Lucy Moss also directs, along with Jamie Armitage, and the whole show takes shape as a mega-watt concert in which each of Henry VIII’s wives gets a chance to stand in the spotlight and tell her story. And as a true ensemble show, Six works so well because all six cast members manage to shine both independently and in the generous group harmonies and banter threaded throughout the show. You might be able to rattle off the names and fates of the poor women who crossed paths with Henry, but you won’t have seen them like this.
Chlöe Hart is absolutely the queen of lung power as Catherine of Aragon while Jennifer Caldwell takes the crown for impeccable comic timing as Anne Boleyn. Casey Al-Shaqsy’s Jane Seymour is queen of hearts and Jessica Niles is the queen of undaunted mettle as Anna of Cleves. The crown for singing a story not just a song goes to Rebecca Wickes’ expressive Katherine Howard and Alana M Robinson completes the line-up as Catherine Parr, who turns out to be the queen of all queens with her gift of bringing women together and pushing the, to lift each other up. Each cast member brings the sass and the fire, but together, they’re pretty dynamite.
While the bops outshine the ballads here, particularly with lyrics, there’s a fabulous mix of musical styles and an awful lot of fun along the way. Songs are definitely catchy but they are also very funny and often very cleverly constructed, packing historical fact alongside contemporary turns of phrase and reference points for maximum impact – it feels irreverent and boisterous and it works a treat. Catchy highlights include No Way, Don’t Lose Your Head, and of course, the title number, Six, while Haus of Holbein offers infectious fun in all its camp discotheque glory.
Emma Bailey’s set design and Tim Deiling’s lighting design take us straight to a concert arena with striking light formations and various levels for our queens to incorporate in performance. Gabriella Slade’s now iconic costumes are a lot of fun, giving each queen her own distinctive individuality but also giving some very contemporary visuals to bring the women bang up to date as they share their stories from yesteryear.
Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography is a real show highlight, filled with diva-tastic posing and posturing alongside sharply shifting shapes and pace to keep up with the changing musical styles. Oh yes, and the fabulous band, affectionately named the Ladies in Waiting, offers even more examples of talented women given a platform to shine, with Caitlin Morgan on keys (also Musical Director), Migdalia Van Der Hoven on drums, Laura Browne on guitar and Ashley Young on bass.
Six is a fantastic night out – there’s laughter and heartbreak and a good dose of infectious girl power to boot. It deserves the hype and it’s well worth a watch!