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A show to lose your head over

Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Great plot for a movie and indeed many films have been made about Henry VIII and his six wives. But a musical? Theatre pop, no less. And in just 75 minutes?

Six, the one-act West End and Broadway hit, nails it, bringing you the stories of the six women married to an entitled King, six women whose stories have been told but whose personalities have often been largely overlooked, overshadowed by the huge commanding personality of their husband in common.

Not so in Six. This is all about the gals, and boy! do their personalities shine, or should I say explode, as these feisty wives compete to determine who actually had the worst experience being married to Henry.

The very contemporary score was written by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow four years ago while the 23-year-olds were studying for their final exams at Cambridge University. Their aim was to write an all female musical and debut the show as a student production at the Edinburgh fringe in 2017. The rest, as they say, and rightly so in this case, is history.

The characters are fashioned after a variety of real-life pop stars, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Adele, Iggy Azalea and Britney Spears among them, and are introduced as performers in a pop concert before the audience is informed that the wife who could prove she suffered the most would become the band’s lead singer. Each then sings a solo to explain her woe and win the most sympathy.

Beginning with wife number one, Catherine of Aragon (Phoenix Jackson Mendoza) belts out her battle against Henry’s hopes for annulment with No Way, (“you’re just so full of sh** must think that I’m naïve”). She had my vote straight off.

But then came the next five numbers.

Anne Boleyn (Karla Gare) picks up the baton, running effortlessly with Don’t Lose Ur Head, as she brazenly and hilariously slams her predecessor Catherine (“ooh, don’t be bitter,  ’cause I’m fitter”) making it clear that losing your head can’t be topped (“no guys, seriously, he’s actually going to chop my head off”).

There’s a change of pace with Jane Seymour (Loren Hunter) the woman described as Henry’s only true love, with her soulful heart-rending Heart of Stone (“cause my love is set in stone”); Anne of Cleves (Kiana Daniele) arguably the funniest of all with Get Down (“you said that I tricked ya, coz I didn’t look like my profile picture”); Katherine Howard All You Wanna Do (“you can’t wait a second more to get my corset on the floor”) and finally, Catherine Parr with I Don’t Need Your Love (“Henry, yeah, it’s true, I’ll never belong to you”)

SIX | Transforming the Tudors.

With lyrics as snappy as the choreography, you can’t help but waver between each wife and her own compelling argument, particularly when it’s topped by shameless and sassy one-upmanship between numbers. Yes, (there’s always one), if you want to over think it you could fret over the abuse and misogyny suffered by these brave women. But don’t. Just enjoy the energy, the empowerment of some toe-tapping tunes, the exquisite costumes, and have fun.

Go see it. It’s short, it’s great entertainment, and you can top and tail it with dinner beforehand and a drink on the harbour afterwards. A great night out!


Location: The Studio, Sydney Opera House
Date: Until April 2
Tickets: From $49 @ sydneyoperahouse.com
Proof of full vaccination or medical exemption required