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Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

Six is currently running on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Who is Annie without her red dress? Or Eva without her balcony? It is the charge of the Broadway designer to transport the audience into the world of a show, whether it be Great Depression-era New York City or outside of the Casa Rosada.

In Broadway by Design, BroadwayWorld is shining a spotlight on the stellar designs of this Broadway season, show by show. Today, we continue the series with Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade who acted as scenic, lighting, sound and costume designers for the Broadway mega-hit, Six.


Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the Six wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power! The musical, which opened on Broadway on October 3, 2021, just earned a whopping eight Tony nominations.

But how did the queendom come to life onstage? Scenic designer Emma Bailey found inspiration in the ladies themselves. "The Tudors are right alongside the iconic pop stars of our era. Between my historical research of Hampton Court brickwork, I binged modern live stage performances, aesthetics and lighting," she explained. "As a trio, Lucy, Jamie and I, brought to the table imagery and videos that really resonated as epic unforgettable pop performances. There was always going to be Beyonce and Madonna, but we also chatted about Nicki Minaj, Adele, Ariana Grande on top of other true pop queens. We really wanted a big immersive rock n roll feel with a strong industrial aesthetic, giving strong shapes and honesty to the stage. There wasn't going to be anything traditionally 'theatre' about the design."

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

Lighting designer Tim Deiling also looked to the pop divas for inspiration. "The trick for us, being a musical, was to take that rather flashy/abstract canon of work and make sure every second of it was Theatrical. It had to tell a story. By committing to specific colors, tones, textures, and cue structures we could uplift and support each of our Queen's narratives.

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

"For example: Katherine Howard's four choruses and verse repeat, the same story of abuse retold throughout her life, depleting us in the end. The lighting does the same," continued Deiling. "All the color and shapes repeat for each chorus and verse. The audience, after hearing all four of her stories, take in what looked vibrant and colorful at the beginning and now resonates on a darker/sinister tone by the end."

Sound designer Paul Gatehouse had to apply the pop musician inspiration more practically. "The use of handheld mics was a key tool for us to convey the correct imagery and audio texture for the vocal sound, we didn't want to use head worn mics and try and fake something.

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

"We also wanted a super direct and punchy sound for our all female band, so Tom Curran (Orchestrator) and I made specific choices about the instruments we'd want, in the use of full size acoustic shelled e-drum set and particular bass and guitar choices. These are all part of the production set-up, so we can guarantee consistency and replication across multiple productions."

"It was my intention to give each queen their own specific silhouette and identity whilst also being cohesive as a powerful female unit," explained costume designer Gabriella Slade. "It was important that the queens feel empowered by the costume that they are wearing.

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

"Contextual research was vital to live and breathe the stories of the real life six wives of Henry VIII. Contemporaneous portraits informed the square necklaces, corsetry, peplums, lattice work and tabs, which combined with contemporary fabrics have formed the identity of our queens.

"[My] biggest challenge was to sculpt and construct the fabrics into architectural forms whilst also enabling the cast to move and dance freely," Slade continued. "We have worked extensively to maintain the integrity and quality of the design and construction whilst also incorporating important placements of stretch, elasticated panels and fastenings to allow for movement."

"The show lives and breaths on it's low frequency, so for me is getting that to feel really punchy and even across the space is something I put a lot of focus and time into," said Gatehouse. "Our technology is improving constantly and we're now able to manage low frequency in really effective ways, controlling how things interact with the room and other parts of the system. So everyone can have the same experience which is something I really care about."

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

Bailey found her biggest scenic design challenge in refraining from using video screens. "A lot of live pop acts rely on them, quite rightly, to get the audience as close as possible to these modern icons in huge stadiums," she said. "We needed impact and movement but our stages are much smaller plus these queens weren't famous (they may be now!) so it's not as interesting to zoom in on their faces as Beyonce's. Finding that texture and making something more sculptural was a big challenge and doing it on a tiny fraction of a pop star's budget."

"With an array of lighting fixtures creating architecture and sculpting the environment it was a challenge to strike a healthy balance between all that in the background and the Queens in the foreground," said Deiling. "No one is allowed to upstage Beyonce (or so I hear)! We run lots of our effects at extremely low levels, even putting some special gels on the lights pointing into the audience to soften them.

Broadway By Design: Emma Bailey, Tim Deiling, Paul Gatehouse, and Gabriella Slade Bring SIX from Page to Stage

"Most importantly though is making sure each of our cues is timed perfectly with the music or it'll work against it. Thanks to my talented programmers, many of the 'hits' and 'stabs' in the Design are triggered directly from the piano player onstage to achieve that perfect harmony of environment and the music."

"We've been on a vast journey with the creation of the show over a relatively short period of time, so if there are any challenges, they are more about logistics and how to manage so many productions at once, it's a good problem to have, as we invariably want to improve and uplift each one that we do," added Gatehouse. "Although we hope that we've reached something now that is about as polished and impactful as anything in a live context can get, there's always something that one of us will want to tweak, and rightly so!"


Six is currently running on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.



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