Review Roundup: SIX Opens on Broadway!

Read All The Reviews of Six; Now playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

By: Oct. 03, 2021

The Broadway producers of SIX, the musical by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, officially opened tonight, October 3, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

The Broadway cast will feature Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr. The cast will also include Keirsten Hodgens, Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert, Courtney Mack, Mallory Maedke.

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, in SIX the wives of Henry VIII take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse-remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a celebration of 21st century girl power. The female cast is backed by an all-female band, the "Ladies in Waiting."

Check out what the critics had to say...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: Somehow "Six," by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, isn't a philosophically incoherent jumble; it's a rollicking, reverberant blast from the past. I don't just mean that it's loud, though it is; you may clutch your ears even before the audience, primed by streaming audio and TikTok, starts singing along to the nine inexhaustibly catchy songs. I also mean that though gleefully anachronistic, mixing 16th-century marital politics with 21st-century selfies and shade, it suggests a surprising, disturbing and ultimately hopeful commonality. Which shouldn't work, but does.

Matt Windman, AMNY: Notwithstanding the dynamic score, "Six" is weighed down by a labored book (which is built around a flimsy setup and banal banter), bargain-basement scenic design, and clunky dance choreography. That being said, "Six," which was highly anticipated before the shutdown, still has the makings of a solid hit. The history-meets-contemporary pop concept certainly worked out well for a little show called "Hamilton," and it is easy to imagine "Six" appealing to teen girls, history buffs, and many others.

Frank Rizzo, Variety: There's the spirit-lifting energy of an arena concert, the humor and sass of a special sisterhood, and a ton of biographical exposition easily received in rap and snap - and which might evoke another recent historical musical. Just as Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton" made us hyper-aware of "who lives, who dies, who tells your story," this show now gives voice to these Tudor #MeToos, presenting a feminist - both proto and post - version of "herstory." As one character says, "History's about to get over-throned."

Helen Shaw, Vulture: The point of Six is its escapism. If you live at the intersection of its interests and can recognize a Spice Girls or Beyoncé reference ("C'mon, ladies, let's get in Reformation"), your animal heart will have no choice but to jump up and down with the beat. Even the sheer brightness of Six operates as color therapy. Emma Bailey's set is a simple rock stage backed by outlines of Gothic windows covered in LEDs that change and pulse in cheery display. Tim Deiling's lights are red and purple and gold, bathing your hungry pores. The color pours down your eye holes right into your serotonin receptors - all that warmth without heat triggers something deep in your lizard brain that says, "Vacation." So let the cares of this world roll away. Heck, let the cares of 16th-century England dissolve. This is one liberation in which you don't have to lift a finger. Queens are doing it for themselves.

Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: Six is not a show that bears too much thinking about. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote it when they were still students at Cambridge University, and it has the feel of a very entertaining senior showcase. Its 80 minutes are stuffed with clever turns of rhyme and catchy pastiche melodies that let mega-voiced singers toss off impressive "riffs to ruffle your ruffs." The show's own riffs on history are educational, too, like a cheeky new British edition of Schoolhouse Rock. If all these hors d'oeuvres don't quite add up to a meal, they are undeniably tasty.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: This kind of campy conceit was executed with at least as much invention and more genuine charm 16 years ago in the off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz, in which a Christian boy band wrestled with their souls as they spoofed the testosterone-pumped teen sensations of the '90s. Six is probably closer to a three, but it's entertaining enough as bubbly pop confections go. By the time the inevitable curtain-call remix cranks up, there should be no shortage of young audiences ready to scream, "Yass, queens!"

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Of course it's worth the wait. Of course anyone planning their own return to Broadway should buy a ticket. It is one of the cleverest, wittiest, flashiest musicals in town-and sets up home in New York after rave reviews wherever it has played, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it began life in 2017, and London's West End. On Sunday night, over 18 months later than anticipated, Six has its long overdue, much deserved moment to shine.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: If you're looking for a sleek, swift and superbly sung evening to take you out of yourself, the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the musical marked its official opening Sunday, fits ideally in your itinerary. At times, the vibe becomes so contagious that it may float you out of your very seat.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: All shows open in a temporal context they can't always control. "Six," especially at just 80 intermission-less minutes and with low costs, an existent YouTube fame, a gently progressive sensibility and a youthful target demographic, is as well-suited to this moment as any piece of live entertainment.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss' score is immediately hummable in the way that only derivative disco music can be. The often witty book, built around a competition among the six wives of Henry VIII, borrows a lot from "RuPaul's Drag Race" while offering yet another #MeToo story. Those theatrical commonplaces aside, "Six" is a needed antidote to "Anastasia," "Frozen," "Jagged Little Pill," "Wicked" and other pompous shows of female empowerment.

Ruth Kinane, Entertainment Weekly: Sitting in a theater packed with fellow fully-vaccinated, mask-wearing Broadway lovers brings a sense of solidarity and camaraderie to the atmosphere, a vibe mirrored on-stage by the cast's girl-group dynamic. Add to that the joy that's always been the DNA of this production, and Six truly is the top ticket to celebrate the return of the live stage show. Look, if a somber play is your idea of Broadway's best, then by all mean, enjoy! But if you're up for a euphoric celebration of the musical medium, Six is queen of the castle. Long may it reign.

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: "Six" is more of a concert than a traditional book musical, though, with nine numbers and a megamix crammed into a quick 80 minutes. The songs here, by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, are all whip-smart and catchy. With jukebox shows proliferating like rabbits, audiences are getting used to hearing modern music onstage, but "Six" is one of the few original musicals in memory whose score is radio-ready.

Greg Evans, Deadline: Introducing themselves by both name and fate - "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!", they chant-sing - the wives, dressed in glitzy, geometric dresses that recall the space-glam flourishes of Lady Marmalade-era LaBelle, take the stage in a non-stop high-energy avalanche of sound. While each of the wives is given a contemporary musical niche - Catherine of Aragon hits the Beyonce-Shakira notes, Jane Seymour goes full Adele, Katherine Howard blends Britney Spears with Ariana Grande - the numbers, distinct and in quick succession, mesh like the colors of a nicely aged tapestry.

Erin Strecker, Mashable: Welcome to Six, the ferocious, feminist, and fun new Broadway musical about the six wives of Henry VIII. But this isn't exactly your mother's Philippa Gregory novel. Yes, these women have been gossiped about about incessantly in both fiction and academic circles over the past 500 years, but this version of the tale, by newcomers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, gives these ladies a very refreshing 2021 update.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Each queen gets an absurdly catchy pop-inspired anthem to tell her own (often untold) story. There's a little Beyoncé in Catherine of Aragon's salsa-tinged "No Way," which details Henry's infidelity, his quest for an annulment, and her refusal ("You must think that I'm crazy/ You wanna replace me, baby, there's/ N-n-n-n-n-n-no way"). Anne Boleyn's bouncy, electro-pop "Don't Lose Ur Head" has a Lily Allen vibe. To play up her sex appeal-and youthfulness-Catherine Parr sings the breathy, Britney Spears-style "All You Wanna Do."

Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: "It has mass appeal, immediacy, enthusiasm, and an incredibly high sense of style; and it revels in what used to be called "girl power" but can now more properly be described as simply, or not-so-simply, power. An audience show for a wide audience, Six is a rafter-raising entertainment that'll get you throwing your proverbial bonnet in the air (but please keep that mask on, for now). Even if, yes, a third of the crowned characters portrayed did indeed-in the plot, and in actual history (and in actual herstory)-lose their heads."

Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: The six women-backed by a terrific onstage band of "Ladies in Waiting"-initially delighted to revel in their woes, wind up revealing more about womanhood (historical and contemporary), modern stardom, victimhood, pop culture, and survival than a musical with this logline has any right to. Capably co-directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, the production does not shy away from the simplicity of its premise, sidestepping any staging issues by owning up to its concert format and allowing the women's charisma to hold court. And what charisma! There is not a single flaw in this production's casting and, while the material itself is strong enough to hold itself through changes in performers, I fear this opening ensemble is like lightning in a bottle. Each actor's work honors their monarch, as well as the respective myriad pop influences behind each queen's stage persona.

Charles Isherwood, Broadway News: As Catherine of Aragon, the first of Henry's wives, Adrianna Hicks evinces the sharp, wounded dignity of a woman not just scorned, but scorned on a historic level. Abby Mueller's Jane Seymour has a gentle piteousness that's entirely apt: She died shortly after giving birth - at last - to a male heir for Henry. Brittney Mack's Anna of Cleves, derided by Henry because in his view she didn't look like the bride he'd been promised in a flattering portrait (or, as she puts it in the contemporary vernacular used throughout, "I didn't look like my profile picture"), sings a feisty song reveling in her comparatively fortunate fate - divorced but settled for life in luxury. As Katherine Howard, who was accused of dallying with other men, Samantha Pauly has a fine, steely, to-hell-with-the-judgers edge. And as Catherine Parr, the last wife, who had the good fortune to outlive the odious Henry (only by a year, alas for her), Anna Uzele wraps up the competition by declaring with frank good humor that she knows she's not likely to come out on top in the suffering sweepstakes. Instead, she evinces her strong sense of her own accomplishments, which were indeed many.

David Cote, The Observer: The six actresses are tremendous talents, equally skilled at scaling the high notes (solo numbers and beaucoup backup) and executing Carrie-Anne Ingrouille's slinky dance moves. Gabriella Slade's glam outfits are sparkling, jewel-encrusted multi-signifiers: both midriff-baring sexy, but also sharp and stiff like armor; these doomed damsels are going to war. Tim Deiling's stadium-raking lights set the perfect rock concert vibe, and Paul Gatehouse's ace sound design makes sure we get every funky bass lick, as well as each goofy pun. Co-directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, Six is a glossy, well-engineered Fringe stunt made good.

To read more reviews, click here!


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