Above – Vidya Makan, Loren Hunter, Chelsea Dawson, Kiana Daniele, Kala Gare, Phoenix Jackson Mendoza. Cover – Vidya-Makan. Photos – James D Morgan - Getty Images

Let me begin by admitting I am a HUGE fan of the musical SIX. Having been listening to album on repeat since 2019, I am a devotee of the poptastic soundtrack that mixes all the best elements from the 90s, 2000s (naughties) and beyond. Therefore, I had very high expectations when I heard the British musical about Henry the 8th’s six wives was coming to Melbourne and I am happy to report that all of them were met.

From what began of humble beginnings at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival has now become a global phenomenon and Tony award-winning musical. SIX is the story of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Better known as King Henry the 8ths six wives. Set up as a concert-styled performance with a respectable 75 minutes (no interval) running time, SIX packs a lot of history, sass, and massive numbers into just over an hour.

As the six queens fight for the title of audience favourite and hardest done-by in history, each reveals their story in showstopping style. Complemented by a glittering array of steampunk-esque costuming by Gabriella Slade.

Catherine of Aragon played by Phoenix Jackson Mendoza opens the battle of the divas with “No Way”, a powerful female anthem for the ages before Kala Gare as the controversial Anne Boleyn upsets the apple cart with the Lily Allen-inspired “Don’t lose your head”. Gare’s comedic timing is absolutely priceless, and she embodies a Sporty Spice quality in her performance. It’s a tough act to follow and the story of Jane Seymour, Henry’s third and admittedly least rebellious wife is the calm in the storm of queen bees. Played by Loren Hunter, she sings her power ballad absolutely beautifully and is the sweetness required in the salty action on stage.

Speaking of the stage, it is a pared-back minimalist event, perfect for touring and the concert format. With sensational lighting and not much else, the six queens are the focal point and their fierce talent shines.

As Henry’s fourth wife, Anna of Cleves, played by Kiana Daniele her moment to shine comes with the Beyonce-inspired number “Get Down” which follows the fabulously euro-trash styled “House of Holbein”, a tongue-in-cheek take on the famous painter who’s portrait of Anna led Henry to marry her (and then promptly divorce her when she didn’t meet his expectations).

Followed by Chelsea Dawson as Katherine Howard, the massive number “All you want to do” is a stark reminder of how little things have changed in 500 years for women in society. And finally, we have my favourite queen, Catherine Parr (everyone has one okay!). Played by swing Shannen Alyce Quan, she brought the house down with “I don’t need your love”, her trills and high notes were absolutely exceptional, and she showed incredible vocal control.

The consistently fourth-wall-breaking show is camp, catchy, and a true celebration of girl power. Backed by an all-female band of “Ladies in Waiting” featuring; Claire Healy and Heidi Maguire on Keys, Kathryn Stammers on Drums, Debbie Yap on Guitar, and Ann Metry on Bass, these badass women of history looked, sounded, and stormed their way onto the Comedy Theatre stage to rapturous applause. In what felt more like a night out at the club, SIX is a musical for all time. It’s bright, colourful, and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. With a nod and wink to the audience, the queens keep everyone entertained with some puntastic dialogue and real chemistry on stage.

With the book, lyrics, and music by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, SIX the Musical is directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage and choreographed by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. SIX is a truly magical night at the theatre, a wonderful moment of joy to experience in the depths of Melbourne’s winter.

Event details

Six the Musical
book, lyrics, and music by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

Directors Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

Venue: Comedy Theatre Melbourne VIC
Dates: 17 June – 21 August 2022
Bookings: sixthemusical.com.au

Produced in Australia by Louise Withers, Michael Coppel and Linda Bewick

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