The limited run will star Gillian Anderson and Lily James.
Six, the modern retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s ill-fated wives, has returned to London following a sold out run of showcases late last year. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival five-star hit has already extended its run at the West End’s Arts Theatre, due to phenomenal demand. It then takes to the Rose Theatre in Kingston and the SEC in Glasgow before year wraps up.
Created by friends Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six unfolds as part musical, part all-out pop performance driven by the vocally diverse ensemble cast. Each of the six wives, pigeonholed by childhood slogan “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”, take centre stage to tell their tale. Ultimately, they declare themselves more than a rhyme, and more than just the wives of an infamous King.
The premise is remarkably simple. Six sees the wives of Henry VIII compete for the saddest story. Anne Boleyn, portrayed brilliantly by the boisterous Millie O’Connell, insists that being beheaded is the ultimate end to a troubled existence, something perhaps only the downtrodden and equally headless Catherine Howard (Aimie Atkinson) could match. Yet each of the title’s six has their own tale of woe, and more importantly, their own sense of empowerment to portray.
Unlike many other West End shows, Six doesn’t rely on a plot to tell its tale. The stage is just that, a stage, void of any typical musical set or scenery. Instead the story unfolds in the powerhouse pop songs, from Jane Seymour’s (Natalie Paris) Adele inspired heartfelt solo to Anne Of Cleves’ (Alexia McIntosh) infectious and victorious Get Down.
The lesson to be learned is loud and clear; these (ex)wives are done being a product of their narcissistic husband, and now is their time to shine.
Its setup lends itself to as much of a pop concert as a West End show, although in characterisation and performance is matches even the best of the latter. The six singers and actors are the crux of the show, their flawless performance is simply incredible to watch.
They are supported by innovative costume, most notable as their Tudor ruffs light up in neon blue for the hilarious Haus of Holbein; the tale of Anne of Cleves’ introduction to Henry.
And where it really counts, in its music, Six is exceptional. The band blend seamlessly into the show, and the songs travel the spectrum of modern day pop. Each of the wives is musically modelled on an individual style, pulling together genres to form a collective sound as powerful as Six’s ultimate liberation.
The on-stage enthusiasm is infectious; the atmosphere both jovial and powerful. Never more so than in Catherine Howard’s solo number, a near show-stealing performance by Aimie Atkinson. The only thing that stops her taking the crown (pardon the pun) is the sheer brilliance of all the cast, creatives and musicians.
Six brings together established and new talent, and is in part so successful due to the often hilarious and ever-poignant chemistry between the ensemble.
Jarneia Richard-Noel makes her off-West End debut as first wife Catherine of Aragon. She’s joined by Millie O’Connell, whose recent theatre credits include 42nd Street and Aladdin as Anne Boleyn.
Jane Seymour, mother to Henry VIII’s son, is played by Natalie Paris (Les Miserables, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Alexia McIntosh joins the ensemble following performances in Godiva Rocks and Save our School Dinners in Coventry to portray Anne of Cleves.
Having appeared in In The Heights, Legally Blonde and in the BBC series Doctors among others, Aimie Atkinson stars as the ill-fated Catherine Howard. Surviving wife Catherine Parr arrives courtesy of newcomer Maiya Quansah-Breed.
Six is now running at London’s Arts Theatre, booking until Sunday 14 October 2018.
The show then heads to the Rose Theatre in Kingston, Surrey, before completing its current run at the SEC in Glasgow.
Tickets for all three venues are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.