REVIEW: “Six” is wildly energetic, fun show
Terica Marie as Anna of Cleves (center) in The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus
By Stephen Hu
“SIX” opened this Tuesday at the Altria Theater as part of the Broadway In Richmond series. This modern musical is based on the six wives of King Henry VIII. Far from being a dry walk through 500 years of history, the play is a wildly energetic and fun combination of a pop concert, women empowerment statement, and talent competition. The cast of Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon, Zan Berube as Anne Boleyn, Amina Faye as Jane Seymour, Terica Marie as Anna of Cleves, Aline Mayagoitia as Katherine Howard, and Courtney Mack as Catherine Parr all shine with outstanding vocals and choreography.
The opening song “Ex-Wives” shows off this ensemble as a formidable vocal group. Each cast member is then featured individually with songs about the wive’s triumphs and travails. They come together for the final title song “Six” followed by a bonus medley encore after the bows. Adding to the girl power theme, the backing band dubbed The Ladies In Waiting are on stage and part of the show. They are director/keyboardist Jane Cardona; bassist Sterlyn Temine; guitarist Rose Lauana; and drummer Kami Lujan. Not only did they add to the energy of the performance, but pushed the concert vibe of the evening.
“SIX” has had a meteoric rise on Broadway. Originally conceived in the UK in 2017 by Cambridge University students Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, it came to widespread attention as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and then as a successful West End play in London where it garnered five 2019 Laurence Olivier Award nominations including Best New Musical. Its Broadway debut was derailed by the pandemic, closing in March 2020 on what was supposed to be opening night, but it has reopened and is currently playing at the Lena Horne Theatre.
“SIX” has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has won 23 awards in the 2021/2022 Broadway season, including the Tony Award® for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. The production at the Altria was enhanced by each cast member having hand-held vocal mics which helped project the vocals (a common challenge in live mixing shows). The musical numbers had a wide range of emotions, leaning on the rocking songs like Catherine Of Aragon’s “No Way” and the infectious Euro-Disco of the ensemble on “Haus of Holbein”; but also showed off some sensitive ballads like Jane Seymour’s “Heart Of Stone” and Catherine Parr’s “I Don’t Need Your Love”.
The audience skewed younger and showed the kind of enthusiasm you would expect to see at a Taylor Swift or Beyonce show. This was appropriate as the format of “SIX” is like a narrative concert. The message of girl power was an interesting contrast to the historical period depicted where women were often limited in influence over their own lives. The positive empowerment message and catchy melodies will leave you in an upbeat mood. Don’t miss this production of “SIX”; it is only in Richmond for a limited engagement ending on November 12th.