Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard), Adrianna Hicks,
center, (Catherine of Aragon). Andrea Macasaet in green (Anne Boleyn), Brittney
Mack (Anna of Cleves, center) and Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr) Photo: Joan Marcus
of England is remembered for two reasons. First, he created the Church of
England. And second, he had six wives with specific fates: divorced, beheaded,
died and survived.
musical Six at the Brooks Atkinson, is a pop concept concert that
showcases these women: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of
Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. And in the short, nearly 80-minute
West End import, they each get, as Andy Warhol predicted, their 15 minutes of
This is a
her-story musical, backed by an all-female, on-stage quartet, with an offbeat
premise: It’s a musical reality show where each queen competes for worst life
ever! The sextet — Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Abby Mueller, Brittany
Mack, Samantha Pauly and Anna Uzele — is uniformly terrific, strong singers and
dancers who make each queen a star.
aren’t presented as demure; they are cheeky and assertive, something their
real-life counterparts could only dream of being. Then again, Six’s
nine numbers are a reimaged take on history — spunky rather than staid. Inspired
by Beyoncé, Adele,
Rihanna, Alicia Keyes and Britney, among other singers, each royal enjoys her
Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, gets mileage in the song “Don’t Lose Ur Head,” as well
as her constant refrain: beheading trumps all. In the number “Get Down,”
Brittney Mack’s Anna of Cleves, rejected by Henry because her portrait didn’t
live up to the real thing, sings: “You say that I tricked ya,’cause I didn’t
look like my profile pic-cha!” She also admits she dodged a bullet. Anne ends up with
a palace and an annulled marriage. Given Henry’s capriciousness, it was the
is first and foremost a visual experience. Gabriella Slade’s costumes, with a
nod to history and a 21st-century twist, add edgy spice. So does
Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s sexy, spirited choreography.
queens’ reigning years were 1509-1547. But the driving force behind Henry’s numerous
nuptials wasn’t love, it was political alliances and procreation. He needed a
male heir to sustain the Tudor dynasty. Ironically, it was his daughters who made
history: Mary I (known as Bloody Mary), his first child and zealous Catholic,
massacred her Protestant countrymen, while Elizabeth I, the daughter of Anne
Boleyn, reigned over a golden age with courage and conviction.
wife, Jane Seymour, deemed the “only one he truly loved,” died in childbirth. Prince
Edward died at 16, the
first English monarch to be raised as a Protestant.
The wives were another matter.
Photo caption: Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves, center). From left, Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr), Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn) and Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon). Photo: Joan Marcus
preoccupied with religion, they may have been livelier than history credits.
However, their power was nil. Henry ruled with an iron hand. As Six
explains, pleasing him was a survival tactic. And when he was done with them,
he either trumped up charges of adultery or treason (Boleyn and Howard) or he
divorced them (Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves). Parr, who may be the
most interesting of the six, survived him. She was also the first woman in
England to publish books under her own name.
the show isn’t a feminist treatise, but it does underscore the irony of Henry
VIII’s reign. No one, the queens note, remembers the wife of Henry VI or Henry
VII — but everyone knows them. One of the final numbers, Uzele’s “I Don’t Need Your Love,” urges the
women to define themselves, rather than through Henry’s eyes. It’s pure
feminist fantasy, but a modern reminder of why women must be in charge of their
As a set
piece, Six is more Britain’s Got Talent
than Masterpiece Theater.
Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, it’s rousing for the audience, thanks
to original music and often-clever lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Still,
the production value can appear a bit cheesy at times.
been various PBS and Showtime dramas (The Tudors) devoted to the women.
The court intrigues, the religious wars, the remarkable defense Catherine of
Aragon mounted when Henry took her to court, are absent. First and foremost, Six
is pop entertainment, with a remix of history. Or as the queens explain:
“You’re going to hear us live — in consort.”
Six, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47
time: 80 minutes, no intermission. Tickets: www.telecharge.com