Six the Musical is coming to Broadway In Chicago this Spring! Get ready as the iconic musical comedy takes the stage and conquers the CIBC Theatre from March 29 to July 3, 2022. Hailing from the United Kingdom, the Six the Musical was first shown in 2017 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since then, the show has travelled the seas and entertained music lovers all over the world. This spring and summer, Six the Musical makes CIBC Theatre its home. Dubbed as the “Aragon Tour,” the US leg of the tour comes after producers were forced to reschedule the 2021 shows. Now, Six the Musical is back, and there is no stopping the queens from reigning supreme!
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six the Musical tells the story of six wives of Henry VIII and how they go about their lives being at their common husband’s every whim. The story is loosely based on circumstances involving King Henry VIII’s desired annulment on his marriage with Queen Catherine of Aragon in order to marry the young and beautiful Anne Boleyn. The major characters are based on historical figures who famously charmed the French monarch, best known for his six marriages. The famous story of the king and his six wives is given a modern yet archaic twist. The show is structured as a concert that turned into a singing competition. Moreover, storylines are highlighted through pop songs sung by the show’s talented cast.
The musical continues to tell the historical events through hilarious songs reminiscent of today’s biggest hits. As the queens scramble on who gets the attention of the king, they bicker amongst each other while belting pop songs. Some songs have themes of mock humor, such as “Don’t Lose Your Head” and “Ex-Wives.” Aside from King Henry VIII, Queen Catherine, and Anne Boleyn, other notable characters that the audience will encounter are Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherin Howard, and Catherine Parr. Instead of giving the queens the old fates that history has cruelly designated for them – divorce, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived – the queens are reincarnated into modern personas that audiences will find familiar.
“Gloriously-persuasively-coherent, confident, and inventive.” – Telegraph
“Pure entertainment… wickedly smart… terrific singers.” – New York Times
Each queen cleverly resembles pop balladeers. The playwrights drew inspiration from real-life female artists, such as Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Beyonce, Lily Allen, Celine Dion, Nicki Minaj, and many more. For example, Catherine of Aragon is modeled after Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez, while Anne Boleyn slightly resembles Avril Lavigne, Kath Nash, and Lily Allen. Jane Seymour happens to radiate Celine Dion, Adele, and Rihanna and she will soon be replaced by Anne of Cleves, who emulates Nicki Minaj and Beyonce. Meanwhile, Katherine Howard bears a semblance to a sexualized Britney Spears. And lastly, Catherine Parr’s character is inspired by Emily Sande and Alicia Keys.
The writers use the six queens to portray protofeminism of the Tudor period and blend it with the feminism of the 21st century to create a lively and sassy musical. The queens would go on to support one another. Then another scene would have them competing against each other – this happens through hilarious and catchy musical numbers.
The show’s development came from humble beginnings and was created by young writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss while attending a university together. Marlow started to conceptualize the play after being tasked by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society to write a musical for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In an interview, he mentioned that the idea came to him while attending poetry class. Marlow took inspiration from Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Meanwhile, co-writer Lucy Moss drew inspiration from the documentary the Six Wives by Lucy Worsley. The two writers would go on and watch Beyonce’s 2011 concert, “Live at Roseland: Elements of 4. Then over the course of ten days, the writers were able to build the foundation of Six.
During an interview with Vogue, Moss mentioned that the Six is written in part due to women’s lack of substantive representation. “We had loads of women and non-binary friends who never got the good parts,” Moss explains. “Women have emotional ballads; the guys have big character songs,” Marlow adds.
During its early days, the show had a meager budget. In the summer of 2017, Six was staged as part of the festival, an annual jamboree that uses church halls, street corners, and pubs as venues. In the case of Six, the musical was set in a conference room in a hotel. “We had three lights, and everyone was in boohoo.com dresses,” says Moss.
The show was very well-received by viewers, and it attracted a number of producers. The following year, Six was to be performed again at the same festival but in larger venues. This time, Marlow recruited composer George Stiles, who thought the show was glorious. Quickly, he assembled a team. Six was reconceptualized, reimagined, recast, and modified with a larger budget. Carrie-Anne Ingrouille was hired to serve as a choreographer, while costume designer Gabriella Slade also joined the team. “It went from being this low-budget whatever to this big, shiny, glitzy thing,” Moss said.
Critics highly praised the music for its inventiveness and energy. Theater critic Lyn Gardner of the Guardian acknowledged the story’s relevance to the struggles of womanhood. “It may be cloaked in silliness, but Six makes some serious points about female victimhood and survival,” she mentioned.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune writer, Chris Jones, who saw the Chicago production of Six, commends the show, calling it “dynamic with a sense of humor and spirited radicalism.” He, later on, praised the writers for being gifted and the actresses for being intensely committed and talented.
This summer, Six takes over the CIBC Theatre. The venue opened in 1906 and it was the first theater in Chicago to cost over a million dollars to build. Designed by architects Edmund R. Krause and George L. and Cornelius Rapp, the theater occupies a portion of the Majestic Building, the tallest building in Chicago. This historic 1,800 capacity venue has hosted legendary personalities such as Lily Langtry and Harry Houdini and iconic musicals including Rent, Chicago the Musical, and Cabaret. In 2015, the CIBC Theatre announced its partnership with Broadway in Chicago to bring the best of Broadway to the city. Some of the partnership’s first projects included a one-off production of Cabaret and a three-year-run of Hamilton. Whether you know the story of King VIII and his six wives or not, you will love this funny and snappy tale about the wives of history’s most notorious and powerful philanderer. Get your tickets now to see Six the Musical at the monumental CIBC Theatre.