Six years since its ascent to the theatrical throne at the Edinburgh Fringe, Six continues to dazzle and entertain audiences not just in the UK but now on Broadway, cruise ships and in Australia - not to mention the recently announced South Korean production. But now a new team of Queens have been crowned and has taken up residency at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s musical has embedded itself in the hearts of musical fans and in the history books of theatre and this evening we were reminded why. A sizzling blend of stunning vocals backed by an intoxicating score, costumes to die for and design for days ensures that Six lives on to tick all of the boxes. Utilising the rhyme we all learnt at school, divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived, this musical wields a glimmer of nostalgia to forge a new story in its retelling of the wives of Henry VIII.
The premise for Marlow and Moss’s concert-like production is a competition between the six ex-wives to determine who had it worst during their time. Was it Jane Seymour who died shortly after the birth of her son, the infamously executed Anne Boleyn or Catherine of Aragon who had a new church created for the simple motive of divorcing her? The queens battle it out to tell their tales of woe through song in order to find a winner.
Gabriella Slade’s now iconic costumes maintain their grandeur on the Vaudeville stage and Emma Bailey’s striking and versatile set design is alive as ever, partly thanks to the magnificently dynamic lighting from Tim Deiling that shines brightly over the new queens at court. Stepping up to the mantle of Catherine of Aragon is Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky with a voice and poise that once again threatens to create a new religion all of their own. Baylie Carson is the rowdy and hilarious Anne Boylen, delivering their own wickedly fun take of the song ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head.’ Claudia Kariuki has a voice that could soothe the most troubled of hearts whilst simultaneously breaking them with their song ‘Heart of Stone,’ and Dionne Ward-Anderson is the most fabulous Anna of Cleves full of cheek and like the others clearly thrives in flexing her vocal talent. Koko Basigara brings fierce vulnerability to the role of Katherine Howard accompanied by some knockout vocals and last but certainly not least we have Roxanne Couch as Catherine Parr complete with a pitch-perfect, shimmering voice that as always brings the queens back together as a unit.
The casting team for Six are some of the best in the business - consistently casting actors whose voices blend so beautifully and can consistently nail Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s slick choreography whilst also bringing their own unique characterisations to the ex-wife lineup. No two casts are alike meaning that repeated trips to the palace result in equally joyous but differing experiences - this cast being no exception to that rule.
As the queendom expands to new realms, Six remains one of the hottest tickets on the West End and that will come as no surprise. It continues to be a must-see for musical fans around the world. May its reign be happy and glorious.
The show is currently booking until Sunday 29 October 2023. Tickets from £20 here.
Review: Henry Longstaff Photos: Pamela Raith