Theater Review: SIX THE MUSICAL (National Tour)

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by William C. on June 14, 2023

in Theater-Regional,Tours


The cast of Six riled up the audience at Segerstrom in this pop concert remix of Tudor history. Catchy earworms, check. Iconic costumes, check. American-Idol-esque belting moments, double-triple check. Thundering applause and cheers erupt from the crowd following every number? Check. Did I mention that the songs are earworms? It is almost impossible not to have the melodies repeat in your head days after watching the show.

Six is the marriage between Broadway and pop-star culture, with a healthy dose of history geek/fan culture (more on that later). This exciting combination enticed me to see its original Broadway production. Now, seeing the touring production, I am still convinced that shows such as Six revitalize the musical as a genre. I just simply love how writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss (Moss co-directed with Jamie Armitage) can be so playful and irreverent with history. And judging by the enthusiastic response from the audience, people attend to party with the fabulous ladies on stage.

The musical follows Henry VIII’s marriage to his six ex-wives. Aside from the opening and closing numbers, you get a series of autobiographical numbers in chronological order about each wife’s trauma/abuse in the hands of their shared husband. Drawn from pop diva icons of our present times, each queen’s song, choreography, and looks are nuanced and yet familiar. For example, Kelly Denice Taylor as Catherine of Aragon: Her costume, music, and vocal range are strongly reminiscent of Beyoncé, the queen bee of American pop music. In her tear-jerking number “Heart of Stone, ” Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour has timbral similarities to Adele’s hit songs. She is also the only one on stage rocking a British accent.

The six ex-wives are gathered on stage for competition to see who has suffered the most in their marriage to Henry VIII. This pain-Olympics is a strong decision as a plotline device. Still, this combination of pop cultural mimicry with the backdrop of a stage competition is equivalent to a thematic cosplay competition and all the fan banter that goes with it (except with original songs). Similar comparisons exist in other fandoms that drive a deep wedge among its citizens: “Who is the ultimate speedster? Superman or The Flash?” or “If Ninja and Pirates fight, who would win?” Both sides would argue it out at a Comic-Con fan forum with ludicrous arguments, truth bomb droppings, and cheesy jabs at each side. So, as these queens sang their hearts out and threw cheap shots and one-liners at each other, I was transformed back to Comic-Con. As a geek, I am obsessed with this open display of geek culture. Is it a suitable plot device? No. Absolutely not. But is it engaging and hilarious? Hell yeah.

The whole cast and the all-female band are superbly talented. And it is pretty fantastic to see an entire cast of ladies that are unapologetically kicking ass on stage, aided by by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille‘s Vogue-like choreography. Gabriela Carrillo as Catherine Parr really stood out above the crowd. There is a sharpness and attitude to her movement that just gives her a choreographic edge. As Anna of Cleves, Alivia Donalson has the most infectious laughter and stage presence. Special mention to Kelly Denise Taylor and Erin Ramirez for stepping into the Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn role. They were both fabulous.

Tim Deiling‘s over-the-top lights have really lent to the party atmosphere of the performance, while offering a substantial dramaturgical role in the story. And, aside from our bombastic leads, perhaps the most exciting people on the stage are the tight band, endearingly named The Ladies in Waiting, whose drummer Paige Durr brought the show to another level with her great solos and excellent stage presence.

Six the Musical is really different. The show has a closer blood-tie to K-pop concerts than musical comedies. And why not? We need something extra on stage, and if it takes the form of six fabulously dressed queens (by Tony-winner Gabriella Slade), I am here for it. Now, go watch some queen slay! Actual beheadings not included.

photos by Joan Marcus

National Tour at Segerstrom Center for Arts
Tues, Weds & Thurs at 7:30; Sat at 2 & 7:30; Sun at 1 & 6:30
(June 24 at 2 ASL Interpreted)
for tickets call 714.556.2787 or visit SCFTA
ends June 25, 2023
tour continues; for more tour dates and cities, visit SIX

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