What would happen if you took hit musical Hamilton, gave it some Eurovision cheese, some Drag Race sauce, some Little Mix girl power and some unashamedly British humour – and then made it about Henry VIII’s wives? Six of course.
Less of a musical, more of a concert, this empowering 80-minute sass-fest is something completely different. With a symbolically all-female cast and all-female band (the effortlessly cool Ladies in Waiting: Musical Director / Keys – Anna Senger, Guitar – Laura Browne, Drums – Migdalia Van Der Hoven, Bass – Ashley Young) it really does feel as though you’re at a sold-out high-production pop show.
We meet the six queens (Catherine of Aragon – Chlöe Hart, Anne Boleyn – Jennifer Caldwell, Jane Seymour – Casey Al-Shaqsy, Anna of Cleves – Grace Melville, Katherine Howard – Jaina Brock-Patel, Catherine Parr – Alana M Robinson) as they host a singing competition based on who their ex-husband Henry screwed over the most. As the hilarious Jennifer Caldwell points out (several times) as Anne Boleyn, she was literally beheaded, so she’s a pretty strong contender, but each queen has their tragic story, told through contrasting songs.
Particular highlights include the iconic Ex-Wives/Six sung by the whole cast of Queens, the sassy and saucy ear worm Don’t Lose Ur Head by Anne Boleyn, the heart wrenching Heart of Stone by Jane Seymour and the hilarious Get Down by Anne of Cleves but there isn’t really a bad song in the bunch. When the six Queens sing together in harmony, it feels like magic and some of the choreography is just *chefs kiss*.
I was really taken with the comedy of the show. There were some real belly-laugh moments and clever lyrics that took a second to land but were worth the wait. Each queen had their own personality – not easy to do with 6 leads, and there was a great mix of styles, with some fantastic Tudor references, (some musical hints to Greensleeves and choreography inspired by court dancing).
It’s not without flaws of course. Some may say (my cynical companion for the evening for one) that it’s a little too cheesy. The message of girl power, the re-writing their story, the realisation that they are only remembered because of a King who couldn’t keep it in their pants, although all really good points, did feel a little ham fisted at times. Perhaps because they had done such a great job of making it feel like a seamless concert, this message felt a little bit as though it had been pushed a little too hard, after the fun of the rest of the show. There were also a few moments that felt a little GCSE dance choreography, which only really stood out because the rest of it was so good.
That said, I can safely say I had a lot of fun. I left the Empire feeling empowered, sassy and educated – I certainly didn’t know about half of those things from history lessons.
Six is playing in Liverpool at the Empire until Saturday 16th April, before heading to Glasgow. https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/six/liverpool-empire/
Reviewer: Codie Wright
Reviewed: 12th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★