Six the Musical

Theatre sensation Six the Musical is staging a comeback at the Vaudeville Theatre on The Strand. Sophia Savage reports.

Following sold out runs at the Arts Theatre, West End sensation Six The Musical is now taking up residency at the Vaudeville Theatre. The production tells the story of the long suffering wives of Horrid Henry VIII. Little more than a footnote in the original telling of the story, here, Henry VIII’s six wives come to memorable, ass kicking life in a production that charms and thrills in equal measure.

Our reviewer Peter Gray was certainly impressed when he saw the production late last year. Here is his review of the production:

“At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this modern retelling of the story of Henry VIII’s six wives. Something worthy but dull, was my best guess.

What I certainly didn’t expect however, was that Six the Musical would prove to be quite so engaging, charming and entertaining. It is, though, and audiences are quite rightly lapping it up.

The production gives theatre goers a chance to get to know the Tudor monarch’s six wives – without the distraction of the man himself. No longer defined by their relationship to England’s original Horrible Husband , Henry’s six wives are free to tell the real stories of their lives.

In what might be considered to be England’s earliest example of a safe space, each woman come magically, hilariously, tragically alive using their own words, thoughts and feelings. Well, maybe not quite in their own words. The producers have allowed themselves a wee bit of poetic licence, so in Six, Henry’s wives sound like recognisably modern women. I know it shouldn’t work, but it does.

Six initially pitches these six hapless women into battle – for the right to be proclaimed Henry’s Biggest Victim. Each wife competes to outdo the other wives in order to claim the title, with the verbal interchanges often proving hilarious.

“What hurts more than a broken heart?” asked Jane Seymour at one point. “A severed head” is Anne Boylen’s razor sharp reply.

However, just as the battle reaches its climax, the six have a collective revelation. “Why are we fighting each other?” someone says, an all six look momentarily confused. What follows is truly liberating, for the audience as much as the characters.

Six the Musical is so stuffed full of good songs, laugh out loud humour and excellent performances that the production leaves little space for the man at the centre of the drama – and that, I think, is exactly the point.

The production has been derided in certain quarters for being simplistic and trite, yet the production lands its punches consistently and effectively.

The show may wear its feminist principles lightly but no audience should be in any doubt about the production’s message. By highlighting how easily women have been erased from history, Six makes a key observation about the continuing patriarchal dominance of history. A little less his-tory and a lot more her-story may not be a totally original message, but it is no less valid for it.

More information on Six the Musical can be found here.

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-London's Best Theatre-
What: period musical
When: until 1 May 22
Where: Vaudeville Theatre
Website: Six the Musical