Thomas Howells takes a musical history lesson from the Six Wives of Henry VIII as Six The Musical plays Wales Millennium Centre.
Six of the most famous Queen’s from England’s history books reimagined as six diva pop-stars at a modern day pop concert? Don’t lose your head! Six the musical is a brilliant example of musical theatre at its very best and whatsmore has appeal for the whole family.
Tony Marlow and Lucy Moss have brought the Six Wives of Henry VIII from dusty old history books, alive and kicking into the 21st Century. Six the Musical turns the spotlight on cruelly ignored stories and pushes the truth of Henry VIII’s history to the forefront in a contemporary, bright and relevant manner.
The narrative of Six is ultimately a modern day rock concert/competition to discover who is the ultimate Tudor queen. Each of the six wives are judged, based on how much abuse and/or trauma they went through as a result of their relationship with King Henry VIII.
Catherine of Aragon (Chloe Hart), Anne Boleyn (Jennifer Caldwell), Jane Seymour (Casey Al-Shaqsy), Anne of Cleaves (Alesha Naomi Pease), Katharine Howard (Jaina Brock-Patel) and Catherine Parr (Alana M Robinson) are reincarnated as modern-day pop divas. They all take to the stage with a live band to deliver their own pop-biographies with quick-witted lyrics and tightly choreographed dance sequences.
As the concert unfolds, more is revealed about the wives than their relationship with the King. A highlight for me was Alana M Robinson’s beautiful portrayal of Catherine Parr. Subsequently the six wives widely ignored stories are finally told.
As somebody who loves history, especially that of Tudor England, I really enjoyed how each of the queen’s stories were unforgettably presented. Although I think for the first 5 wives, there’s certainly room for further information about their lives to be included (e.g. Anne Boleyn’s bilingualism and history in France).
The presentation’s music also has broad appeal. Each queen is represented by a different genre from the heart-felt ballad Heart of Stone to the upbeat Don’t Lose Your Head.
Meanwhile, the humour in the musical never fails to get the audience laughing with snappy remarks and well delivered lines. It was very easy to get a sense of how these characters were being depicted. This worked especially well with Jaina Brock-Patel’s Katherine Howard, boasting one of the best songs and perfect delivery on every line.
One of my favourite points of Six The Musical were the colours attached to each queen. Knowing their stories, I think each one was well thought out and suited the characters perfectly. Jennifer Caldwell’s Anne Boleyn ensured that the symbolism behind the colour green was perfectly reflected in the acting and personality needed for the role.
History at school was never this fun – and as Six The Musical reaches its climax, you will probably go home wanting more. The audience certainly did!
- Six The Musical continues at Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday May 7. Visit Wales Millennium Centre’s website for full details.