Six the Musical Reminds Us Of the Lives of All of Henry VIII’s Wives

Laura and Sarah ventured out again to the next show in the Pittsburgh Broadway Series – Six The Musical. ~ Sue

Last night was cold. Wind chill made it 11 degrees. It was snowing, sort of. The type of winter day Pittsburgh used to have. I came home after work. I did not want to leave the house. I was grumbling, dramatically and bitterly, about having to go back outside into the cold. I might get home late. I was tired. But, Sarah P and I had tickets to see “Six, the musical” at the Benedum. Sarah arrived with a warm vehicle and off we went. 

I had never heard about this musical before tonight. It would be performed without an intermission and was about 80 minutes. Already I was feeling better, I would be home sometime after 9 PM. Plenty of time to gear up for the next workday. 

The musical is based upon the wives of Henry the VIII and I must admit that I don’t know very much about them.   The Six are Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour (that name sounds familiar doesn’t it?), Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. 

Each Queen sang a song about her life/marriage to the king. The musical was set to brightly colored lights, there was a band, “The Ladies in Waiting,” and plenty of strobe lights and techno music. Everyone on the stage was female which was very refreshing to see.

Judging from the reaction of the audience, and the Queens encouraged interaction, this was a popular musical. How did I not know about this?

My reviews are based upon feeling. I cannot read music. I cannot hold a tune. I could not comment on a singer’s technique or any of the technical aspects of singing. To me, if someone can sing, and it sounds good to my ears, I applaud them for having a talent. These six ladies had talent. All of them could belt out show stopping tunes. All of them could dance. They infused their songs with humor and sadness. They all made the point that they were (mostly) lost to history. That their value was being one of King Henry the VIII’s wives. This musical was their chance to tell their stories, to re-write history.

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Did I have favorites, yes. Catherine of Aragon (Jana Larell Glover), Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube) Jane Seymour (Amina Faye a fellow Penn State alumni!) and Anna of Cleves (Terica Marie). They were my favorites because of their over the top amazing performances. Anna of Cleves told her story complete with strobe lights, techno music and sunglasses! She was sent to England from Germany and was picked because a famous artist drew a portrait of her. When she arrived in England the King rejected her when he met her face to face! Anne Boleyn liked to flirt and have affairs. Unlike the men who did this with impunity, it evidently led to her execution/beheading.    

The premise of this musical is a competition on which wife was better. Each told her story and each story emphasized how amazingly difficult it was to be a woman in the 1550’s. And, technically, as wives of a king, these women would have had it “easier” then their contemporaries. The musical also brought home to me how so much has changed and yet how little things have changed. The double standards between male and female behavior, the power men have over women, how men decide what women can and cannot do with their bodies how sexism is still very much alive.

I don’t want to bum you out, though. This is a very rousing, entertaining musical with terrific, powerful  singing and dancing. It tells a piece of history. I recommend highly that you experience this. And the weather is supposed to get more tolerable as the week goes on so that’s not an excuse! It runs at the Benedum until March 19. 

Six runs this weekend only in Pittsburgh. Tickets are limited so act fast.

SIX from The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust on Vimeo.


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