“Six” the musical brings amazing women back to life

The British musical comedy provides an incredible, pop-centric retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives.


Liz LaHood

Digital illustration of a promotional poster for the musical “Six.”

I went to see “Six,” the musical on March 1. As a preexisting fan and someone who has listened to the show’s soundtrack for a very long time, seeing the show live was almost surreal. It was fantastic; I cried multiple times, really because I was just so excited to be there, but also because the story itself was moving. 

While the story is a somewhat fictionalized account of Henry the VIII’s six wives, it is rooted in real history. The historical aspects of “Six” are clearly influenced by the success of “Hamilton,” but the two shows cannot really be compared. On the musical side, “Six” is influenced by women in pop, with each queen having their own musical inspirations. Each queen is unique, all having their own strong vocal moments in each song. 

The first song, “Ex-Wives,” is an introduction to the content of the musical. It introduces us to each of the queens while providing the manner in which they each died. The music is lively and upbeat with each instrumental break being a techno version of an old English folksong, “Greensleeves.” “Greensleeves” is rumored to have been written by Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn, one of the queens featured in the show. Overall, it is a great start to the show and brings the energy. It also sets up the concert vibe of the musical, with multiple of the queens breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience.

The second song is “No Way,” the first solo song of the show. This song details Catherine of Aragon’s life and marriage to the king. The character sings about her childhood in Spain, her marriage to the king’s brother and then her faithfulness to the king despite his adultery. Catherine of Aragon is angry that the king wants to divorce her simply to marry Anne Boleyn, the next queen. 

At my showing, Catherine of Aragon was played by actress Gerianne Pérez. Pérez had very strong vocals with beautiful riffs and a wide range, but it felt like she really tried to show off the power of her voice at times. She also tended to slur her words together, making it hard to discern what she was singing or saying at other times. Other than that, she brought the confidence and playfulness perfectly suited to the role. Each solo in “SIX” is influenced by a pop icon, and “No Way” is influenced by Beyonce. I think Pérez filled this role really well. 

The third song is “Don’t Lose Ur Head,” the second solo of the show. The song describes Anne Boleyn’s life and marriage to the king. The character sings about her role in the English courts, her role as a mistress in between the king and Catherine of Aragon’s marriage and her series of missteps that eventually led to her beheading. Boleyn’s song is fun and playful, and actress Zan Berube brought the perfect energy to match. She was continually hilarious throughout the show in both her dialogue and her music. Anne Boleyn’s song is inspired by pop-punk icon Avril Lavigne, and Berube brought the spunk needed for this role.

The fourth song and third solo of the show is “Heart Of Stone,”. The song details Jane Seymour’s fairly happy marriage to the king, describing how she truly loving the king through thick and thin, no matter his temperament. She then sings about her death and never being able to raise her son. Jane’s solo is influenced by Adele, and this is clear in the song’s strong vocals and ballad-like instrumental. Jane was played by Amina Faye, and Faye took to this role beautifully. She had amazing range and vocal control, bringing all of the emotion and heartbreak needed for Jane’s character. 

The fifth song is “Haus Of Holbein,” the second group number of the show. The song acts as an introduction to Anne of Cleves, while also serving as a break between all the solos. It is an electrifying and energetic number with a fun techno instrumental and vocals sung in German accents. With glow in the dark sunglasses and Elizabethan collars, the number shakes things up and gives a drastic change between Jane Seymour’s heartbreaking ballad and Anne of Cleves’ anthem. 

The sixth song is “Get Down,” the fourth solo of the show. The song details Anne of Cleves’ glorious life after her divorce from the king; historically, Anne received a large settlement after her divorce and moved to Richmond. The song is a boast of Anne’s independence and her happiness without a man. It is confident while still maintaining a fun feel. The choreography is also great, perfectly matching the vibe of the solo. “Get Down” is influenced by R&B icon Rihanna, as well as the “Queen of Rap,” Nicki Minaj. Each line in the song drips with confidence, a clear indicator of these two artists’ influence.

The seventh song,“All You Wanna Do,” is the fifth solo of the show. The song tells the story of Katherine Howard’s life and the abuse she received at the hands of several men, including the king. The song’s lyrics reflect a loss of innocence, with the beginning of the song narrating a love story that fades with the realization of abuse toward the end of the song. The instrumental stays bright and poppy throughout, which adds to the theme of innocence. 

In my opinion, this structure makes the song the most heartbreaking solo in the show. In the show, Katherine screams at the end once she realizes she has been taken advantage of time and time again. “All You Wanna Do” is inspired by pop icon Britney Spears, which is meaningful when considering how the media took advantage of Spears at her lowest. This role is a complicated one to play, and the actress Aryn Bohannan pulled through. I could hear the betrayal and devastation in her voice near the end, she filled this role perfectly.

The eighth song is “I Don’t Need Your Love,” the sixth solo of the show, though it ends up becoming sort of a group number toward the end. The song describes Catherine Parr being forced to leave the love of her life to be the king’s wife, and the heartbreak she felt after. She explains how she feared for her life if she refused the king’s proposal and sang the words she wished she could have said. 

After this, the song transitions into Catherine’s own accomplishments separate from the man she has been connected to throughout history. She explains her work in writing as well as women’s education, and encourages all the other queens to join in. While the song started as a heartbreaking love song, it changed into a feminist anthem, also changing the meaning of the phrase “I don’t need your love” in the context of the show. Catherine’s song is influenced by Alicia Keys, and that influence comes through in the strong vocals and the soul instrumental. Catherine was played by Sydney Parra, who brought the perfect mix of heartbreak and strength to the role.

The ninth and final song is “Six,” the third group number of the show. The song features small solos from each of the queens, detailing a changed history where the queens found the strength to turn down the king’s proposals and lived. Throughout the song, the queens count down to the end of the show while detailing all the things that make them unique – they cut their history with the king and redefine themselves. The instrumental is fun and poppy with all the queens singing together. It is the perfect ending to a rollercoaster of a show.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this show. The costumes were amazing, the choreography was fantastic and the lights fit in really well. The band did not miss a beat, and all the actresses were perfectly suited for their roles.