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Issue 1783 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


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The Historemix

Divorced, beheaded, died, the pop sensation - the infamous tale of Henry VIII's six wives gets a fresh twist

Six The Musical 4 Pamela Raith Photography Rt Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

Arts

in Issue 1783

The Musical

Six - The Musical

★ ★ ★ ★
Where
Vaudeville Theatre
When
Until May 2022
Cost
£29.50 (Students)

We all have different ways of procrastinating for exams, but for Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, writing a hit musical was their outlet. The two Cambridge students spent ten days during their exams period developing the script and music behind Six the Musical, telling the ‘untold‘ story of Henry VIII’s six wives in a modern, girl-boss kind of way.

The premise of the show is that each queen is a member of a girl group, and they are all competing to see who the leading lady can be based on how much Henry VIII hurt them. This format gives each their moment under the spotlight and allows the audience to connect with their strong personalities.

... Just a woman, or six of them and a microphone can take over the world.

First, we get a taste of the original paragon of royalty, Catherine of Aragon, played by the amazing Jarneia Richard-Nioel. Beyond impeccable vocals and a confidence which embodies the character, Richard-Nioel’s technique of portraying humour or anger just by the way she scowled at the audience is truly the cherry on top.

Next, one of the more famous queens, both histor- ically and in the Six universe: Anne Boleyn. Millie O’Connell originated the role in a rather iconic way, gaining swathes of fans. However Cherelle Jay, the alternate during this performance, brought her unique quirks to the role. Jay’s reinvention of the portrayal was very refreshing with her more subtle ways of transmitting Boleyn’s punchy and bitchy persona working fabulously; and in some ways this made the Tudor queen seem more nuanced than ever.

The costumes in Six, funky and modern, are all an integral part of the spectacle. Jay’s costume was however not the usual green Boleyn skirt, which was a bit of a disappointment, but this is likely to go unnoticed and unmissed by most the audience.

Jane Seymour, played by understudy and dance captain Collete Guitart, took to the stage next. Her performance hit all the right notes singing about not being able to spend more time with her son. This was the first ballad in what was up to this point a highly energetic show. This variation in musical styles is definitely one that Six leverages to its advantage.

The next queen to show up is Catherine Howard (played by Sophie Isaacs). The characterisation of the queen and musical style is allegedly based off of Britney Spears, and Isaacs voice lends itself perfectly to the cute schoolgirl tones. The song is quite dark as it tells of men taking advantage of her from a very very young age. Isaacs does a good job at portraying a sense of vulnerability and sadness while still keeping things relatively fun.

The queen who has the least to complain is next: Anne of Cleeves. Alexia McIntos is an expert at portraying the fun, opulent energy of this German queen.

Six The Musical 4 Pamela Raith Photography Rt Photo: Pamela Raith Photography
Boisterous performances abound in Six - The Musical

In the song “House of Holbein” the band transports the audience to a sort of Berlin techno club. But here for once, the energy level of the queens doesn’t quite seem to match the tempo of the song.

Finally, the queen who survived, Catherine Parr was played by alternate: Hana Stewart. The characterization of Parr in the musical is probably the least compelling, but Stewart (and every other Catherine Parr I have seen) makes up for it with impeccable vocals. The story of the queen who survives could be given a few more twists and turns or at the very least some je ne sais quoi.

I would say some of the explanations about the context of the competition they are competing in was a bit superfluous and as things wrap up at the end, the constant explanations of the moral behind the show were a bit tiring. However, this musical is the perfect example of how smaller productions with a unique story, powerful songs and strong characters don’t need to rely on big sets or complicate dance numbers. Just a woman, or six of them and a microphone can take over the world.

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