|Photo by James Morgan, Getty Images
Sydney Opera House in association with Louise Withers, Michael Coppel and Linda Bewick by arrangement with Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes and George Stiles, presents, SIX , by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss - Book, Lyrics and Music - in the Studio at the Sydney Opera House. 4th January - 5th March.
SIX, is a contemporary musical, having its origin as part of the Edinburgh Festival in 2017. Taken up, it was further developed and is now represented by seven companies throughout the world, including a Broadway production opening in 2020. SIX is a musical phenomenon.
SIX is the 'herstory' of the six wives of Henry VIII. It has been conceived through the influential contemporary lens of womens' empowerment, catapulted by the energy of the #metoo stance. It is a brilliant, sassy, sexy, vital deconstruction of history - amusing cheeky and out there.
This is the story of Katherine of Aragon (Chloe Zuel), Anne Boleyn (Kala Gare), Jane Seymour (Loren Hunter), Anne of Cleves (Kiana Daniele), Katherine Howard (Courtney Monsma), and Catherine Parr (Vidya Makan), told with an energising musical score that, we are told, has been influenced by contemporary artists as wide-ranging as Beyonce, Shakira, Lily Allen, Avril Lavigne, Adele, Sia, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Emeli Sande - a pop sound of thrilling daring throbbing with the delicious skill and power of an all women band: the Ladies In Waiting: Claire Healy (Musical Director and Keys), Ali Foster (Drums), Debbie Yap (Guitar) and Jessica Dunn (Bass). The energy of 10 empowers women irresistibly envelops you.
DIVORCED. BEHEADED. DIED. DIVORCED. BEHEADED. SURVIVED.
Henry and the other men do not appear and all we need to know is what the women tell us. Forget the historians Agnes Strickland, Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir and David Starkey's (and countless others) forays into investigating the historic sources of these women (some of it very 'lean' and/or politically distorted) and 'play' with the alternate that writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss have provokingly conceived for you. Their six women are inhabited by roistering Australian artists with broad 'colonial' sounds welcoming "Sydney" - "Hello Sydney " - into their version of what happened inviting us to choose our champion queen after we have heard their 'pitch' for supremacy, who finally jettison that conceit for the power when they intuit that 'sisterly' co-operation will succeed redemption for their stories when they act as a team rather than as competing rivals.
SIX has a costume Design (Gabriella Slade) with a nod to history but rendered in over-the-top contemporary pop-music style, with glamorous lighting (Tim Deiling) and feisty choreography (Carrie-Anne Ingrouille) propelling you into an out-of-mind experience of uninhibited fun. We stand at the end of the show and groove along with the Queens in ecstatic celebratory style. I spotted some 'groupies' who seem to have seen it before, recording iPhone camera in hand, as they mouthed almost every lyric in this 75 minute cyclonic whirl of history told with tongue-firmly-in-cheek.
All the company is sculptured into a secure ensemble - you will have your favourite(s) - mine were: Chloe Zuel (the Spanish Queen - NO WAY) and Kiana Daniele (the German Princess processing with the company in a Berlin Club: the HAUS OF HOLBEIN, with green outlined fluorescent glasses and fringed Elizabethan neck ruff added to their clothing styles - GET DOWN, sings Anne).
With SIX the Sydney Opera House curates another great night in the theatre: Hannah Gadsby: DOUGLAS and the Hofesh Schetcher Dance Company with their GRAND FINALE.
Catch SIX, if you can. Great night.