Six (musical)

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Divorced Beheaded Live in Concert!
Six Musical.jpg
MusicToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
LyricsToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
BookToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
BasisThe six wives of King Henry VIII
Premiere2017: Edinburgh Fringe
Productions2017 Edinburgh
2018 Off-West End
2018 UK Tour
2019 Chicago
2019 West End

Six is a British musical with book, music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.[1] The musical is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII presented as a pop concert, as the wives take turns singing and telling their story to see who suffered the most due to Henry and should therefore become the group's lead singer.

The musical was first presented by Cambridge University students at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. It has since gone on to professional productions in the West End and been presented internationally.


The show opens with the Queens performing an opening number in pop-concert, girl-group fashion that introduces themselves and welcomes the audience to the performance ("Ex-Wives"). They address the crowd through means of breaking the fourth wall and tell them that this show will feature a competition, and whoever had the "biggest load of B.S." to deal with from the man who married them, Henry VIII, will be the one to lead the group. Catherine of Aragon starts off and recounts her marriage to Henry and later annulment, and almost being put into a nunnery when he began lusting after Anne Boleyn ("No Way"). When Aragon claims that she is the winner, the other Queens mention Anne and how she overlapped with Aragon during the former's marriage, resulting in said annulment, and Anne recounts her time as Queen with Henry and her eventual execution ("Don't Lose Ur Head"). Jane Seymour then announces it's her turn to recount what she put up with, but the other Queens mock her for not having as much to deal with as, in her words, she was "the only one he truly loved". Seymour admits that while she may have been lucky for not having to suffer at his hand, she still stood by him throughout all his faults ("Heart of Stone").

The story then shifts as the Queens are suddenly turned into members of Hans Holbein's painting studio, talking about how they make the women he paints look beautiful for portraits. In a set-up parodying Tinder (or another similar dating site) they present three women: Christina of Denmark, Amalia of Cleves, and Anna of Cleves,[a] Amalia's elder sister. When Henry "swipes right", so to speak, on Anna, they all assume he will marry Anna and they will be happily married ("Haus of Holbein/Haus of Holbein Playoff"). Of course, their union is ultimately ill-fated as he rejects Anna, and she pretends to make a big deal about how she is then forced to live in a beautiful palace in Richmond as a result, though she's not really complaining ("Get Down"). After the Queens point out Cleves' life doesn't sound that difficult, Cleves says "Oh, well, back to the palace". As Katherine Howard is next to go, the Queens belittle her for being "the least relevant Catherine", but Howard retaliates by mentioning flaws in the other Queens' reasons for winning. She then recounts her life and the men who hurt her, leading into her marriage to Henry and eventual beheading ("All You Wanna Do").

When the Queens get into a massive fight about who should win the title of lead singer by comparing their Henry-related traumas, Catherine Parr puts a stop to it, questioning if being remembered solely for being Henry's wives - rather than by what they actually did as Queens - is the true way to win, telling her story in the process ("I Don't Need Your Love"). They slowly but surely agree with her and sing proudly that they don't need the love of Henry to feel validated as people ("I Don't Need Your Love (Remix)"). With only five minutes left in the show after the fact, they decide to use their remaining moments on stage to "rewrite" the stories they told, and sing for themselves for a change, singing together as a group rather than as solo artists, and writing their own happily ever after ("Six").

In all of the live performances of the show to date, the Queens perform an encore number that isn't featured on the Original Cast Recording, which is a mashup of all the songs performed in the show (minus "Haus of Holbein") called "Megasix". Coincidentally, this is the only song allowed to be recorded during a live performance, and the Queens encourage the audience to film the song, which brings the concert feel of the show full circle, as it's normally seen as disrespectful to film theatrical performances.


Edinburgh Fringe (2017)[edit]

The idea for the musical came to Toby Marlow while studying in his final year at Cambridge University, and despite uncertainties from collaborator Lucy Moss, the pair wrote the musical while studying for their final exams.[2] The world premiere production took place at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, presented by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society.[3]

Arts Theatre (2017)[edit]

The Edinburgh production attracted the attention of several producers, and made its professional debut on 18 December 2017, performing six Off-West End performances at the Arts Theatre. A full cast recording was released on 13 September 2018, featuring the original Arts Theatre cast.

UK Tour (2018)[edit]

Six began its first UK tour on 11 July at the Norwich Playhouse, returning to the Edinburgh Fringe on 1 August 2018. Six transferred to the Arts Theatre in the West End with an opening night on 30 August. The production closed on 14 October prior to continuing its UK Tour. The UK tour ended on 30 December 2018 in Glasgow.[4] During the Glasgow production, Renée Lamb briefly returned to the show to play the role of Catherine of Aragon as a result of cast illness.

Arts Theatre (2019)[edit]

The musical re-opened for an initial 16-week run at the Arts Theatre on 17 January [5] The initial run has since been extended until July 2020.[6]

North American Tour (2019)[edit]

Six had its North American premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May 2019.[7] Directed by Jamie Armitage and Lucy Moss,[8] the Chicago premiere was produced by Six's London producers with the addition of Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. According to Chris Jones the Chicago production was a likely Broadway tryout.[9] After an extended run in Chicago,[10] the same production moved to the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in August and September of 2019,[11] and will make its Canadian premiere at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre in November.[12] The production is then scheduled to play the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota, from 29 November through 22 December, prior to its Broadway debut.[13]

Norwegian Cruise Line (2019)[edit]

On 6 August 2019, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that they would be showing performances of Six on three of their ships at different times.[14] The shows began in September 2019 and will run until 2022.

Sydney (2020)[edit]

Six will have its Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House, beginning January 2020. Further details to be announced.[15]

Broadway (2020)[edit]

Six will begin previews on Broadway in February and will open on 12 March 2020 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.[16] The production will star the cast of the show's Chicago premiere.[17] Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage are to again direct, with choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, set design by Emma Bailey, costumes by Gabriella Slade, sound by Paul Gatehouse, lighting by Tim Deiling, and orchestrations by Tom Curran, with music supervision and vocal arrangements by Joe Beighton.[18]

Chicago (2020)[edit]

On 4 August 2019, at the final performance of the Chicago premiere, it was announced that Six would return to the city for a 16-week run at the Broadway Playhouse from 8 July through 25 October 2020.[19]

Principal cast[edit]

Role Original Edinburgh Cast Original Arts Theatre Workshop Cast Original West End Cast Original North American Tour Original Broadway Cast 2019 UK Tour Cast
Catherine of Aragon Megan Gilbert Renée Lamb Jarneia Richard-Noel Adrianna Hicks Lauren Drew
Anne Boleyn Ashleigh Weir Christina Modestou Millie O’Connell Andrea Macasaet Maddison Bulleyment
Jane Seymour Holly Musgrave Natalie Paris Abby Mueller Lauren Byrne
Anna of Cleves Tilda Wickham Genesis Lynea Alexia McIntosh Brittney Mack Shekinah McFarlane
Katherine Howard Annabel Marlow Aimie Atkinson Samantha Pauly[b] Jodie Steele
Catherine Parr Shimali de Silva Izuka Hoyle Maiya Quansah-Breed Anna Uzele Athena Collins

Musical numbers[edit]

  • "Ex-Wives" – The Queens
  • "Ex-Wives (Reprise)" – The Queens †
  • "No Way" – Catherine of Aragon
  • "Anne Boleyn (Interlude)" – The Queens †
  • "Don't Lose Ur Head" – Anne Boleyn
  • "Heart of Stone" – Jane Seymour
  • "Haus of Holbein" – Company
  • "Haus of Holbein (Playoff)" – Company †
  • "Get Down" – Anna of Cleves
  • "All You Wanna Do" – Katherine Howard
  • "I Don't Need Your Love" – Catherine Parr
  • "I Don't Need Your Love (Remix)" – Catherine Parr & the Queens ††
  • "Six" – The Queens
  • "Megasix" – The Queens †

† Not included on the Studio Cast Recording.
†† Included as part of "I Don't Need Your Love" on the Studio Cast Recording.


In a review of the Arts Theatre production, Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph called the show "gloriously – persuasively – coherent, confident and inventive".[22] Lyn Gardner of The Guardian wrote, "It may be cloaked in silliness, but Six makes some serious points about female victimhood and survival."[23]

In a review of the Chicago production, Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune praised the show as "dynamic" and a "blast", with a "sense of humor and spirited radicalism." Marlow and Moss are "gifted comic writers," he noted, and he praised the "musical force of the intensely committed and talented actresses" in the Chicago cast. Jones suggests the show could use 10 more minutes of material that gets away from the plot's singing contest conceit, and toward the emotional center of the characters. He also thinks the orchestration of the songs could be more substantial. Jones believes Six has an audience that is ready for it, in part because it gets to a complex historical paradox and treats it with verve, the memories of women in history being tied to the life of a man.[24] Hedy Weiss of WTTW praises the musical as "sensational", singling out each performer in the Chicago cast. Weiss also thinks the show makes a convincing case for each character, and in addition to praising the writers, notes the "dynamite direction by Moss and Jamie Armitage, and powerhouse music direction by Roberta Duchak" as well as, "Gabriella Slade’s glittering costumes . . . and Tim Deiling’s arena-style lighting".[25] According to Rachel Weinberg of Broadway World, "Six carries out [a] joyful and anachronistic takedown of the patriarchy" through the performances of a "brilliant" cast and a book and score with an inventive and sensational compositional method.[26] Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote that the musical is "pure entertainment", the writing is "wickedly smart", the "terrific singers" of the Chicago cast sell the show "unstintingly", and the production values "befit a splashy North American premiere with Broadway backing."[27]


Original West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 WhatsOnStage Awards Best New Musical Nominated
Best Original Cast Recording Nominated
Best Lighting Design Tim Deiling Nominated
Best Costume Design Gabriella Slade Nominated
Best Choreography Carrie-Anne Ingrouille Nominated
Best Off-West End Production Won
Laurence Olivier Awards[28] Best Musical Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Joe Beighton, Tom Curran, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss for orchestrating, scoring and vocal arranging Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O'Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel Nominated
Best Costume Design Gabriella Slade Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille Nominated


  1. ^ The character goes by the German spelling, 'Anna', instead of the traditionally anglicized, Anne.
  2. ^ Courtney Mack took over for Pauly beginning 25 June of the Chicago run,[8] and will continue in the role at A.R.T. before Pauly returns for the Edmonton production.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Marking her-story: SIX announces UK tour and West End run". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  2. ^ "We wrote a musical during our it's on in the West End". The JC. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  3. ^ Wilcock, Tim (25 August 2017). "Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - SiX". Fringe Review.
  4. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy (29 August 2018). "Six extends in the West End". Whatsonstage. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Six the musical is returning to the West End next year". Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Six announces new West End cast members". Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  7. ^ "New Musical Six, About Wives of King Henry VIII, Will Play Chicago Shakespeare Theater". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Chicago Shakespeare Theater: SIX". Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  9. ^ Jones, Chris. "Chicago Shakespeare to nix 'Broomsticks' and premiere new rock opera 'Six'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  10. ^ Desk, Broadway World News (20 May 2018). "SIX Extends Chicago Run Through August 4th". Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Announcing A.R.T.'s 2019/20 Season". A.R.T. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  12. ^ Nestruck, J Nelly. "Edmonton's Citadel Theatre nabs Canadian premiere of hit London musical Six". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  13. ^ Meyer, Dan. "Six Continues American Conquest With Ordway Engagement This Fall". Playbill. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  14. ^ "SIX: The Musical Coming to Norwegian". Norwegian Cruise Line. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  15. ^ Cooper, Nathanael. "Divorced. Beheaded. Live: Musical about Henry VIII's wives coming to Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  16. ^ McPhee, Ryan (1 August 2019). "Six Musical, Putting Henry VIII's Wives in the Spotlight, Heads to Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  17. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Broadway's Six Finds Its Stars". Playbill. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  18. ^ Greg Evans (10 September 2019). "Broadway's Upcoming 'Six' Musical Casts Wives Of Henry VIII". Deadline. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  19. ^ "SIX to Return to Chicago in Summer 2020". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Chicago Company Of SIX Will Reprise Roles In American Repertory Production". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  21. ^ Samantha Pauly Official Website
  22. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (28 August 2018). "Six review, Arts Theatre: gloriously musical meeting with all Henry VIII's wives". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  23. ^ Gardner, Lyn (10 January 2018). "Six review – Henry VIII's wives form girl band to take a pop at history". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  24. ^ Jones, Chris (23 May 2019). "Now at Chicago Shakes, 'Six' gives these Tudor wives a voice and could be a huge hit". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  25. ^ Weiss, Hedy (23 May 2019). "In Knockout Musical 'Six,' King Henry VIII's Wives Have Their #MeToo Moment". WTTW. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  26. ^ Weinberg, Rachel (25 May 2019). "BWW Review: SIX at Chicago Shakespeare Theater". Broadway World. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  27. ^ Green, Jesse (2 June 2019). "On Chicago's Stages, Women With Problems". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  28. ^ McPhee, Ryan (5 March 2019). "2019 Olivier Award Nominations: London's Company and Come From Away Lead the Pack". Playbill. Retrieved 6 March 2019.

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