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Review: SIX: THE MUSICAL at Des Moines Performing Arts

Here are SIX reasons to see "SIX: The Musical" playing at the Civic Center through Febrary 19.

By: Feb. 11, 2023
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In 2017, a show opened in London. Over the next few years, its popularity would grow, leading to a small US tour before getting ready to open on Broadway. The show was already building hype, but days before it opened, Covid 19 caused its opening to be delayed, producing even more buzz for the show. It now has two tours going simultaneously across the US. That show is "SIX: The Musical," which opened Tuesday at Des Moines Civic Center as part of the Des Moines Performing Arts Willis Broadway Series. As I considered how to review this show, I decided to give you "SIX" reasons to see "Six: The Musical."

Reason number one to see "SIX" is the show's setting. Walking into the theatre for six, you see a purple curtain with Gold embellishments. You don't see the set for the show, but you hear music playing that could have been from the day each of the Queens represented in the show were alive. As the show starts and the curtain comes down, you quickly realize this isn't a historical production but has the feeling of attending a concert. To play into that concert feeling, each of the Queens has two pop artists that inspired the style of the songs they sing.

Reason number two to see "SIX" is the story, or Her Story, as the Queens would call it. After the Queens introduce themselves in the opening number, they soon decide to have a contest. The winner of the contest gets to be the leader of the group. They decide the only way to do this is to share their stories with the audience and allow the audience to determine which of the Queens had the worst life. As they each share their stories, they begin to realize that their stories might not be as different as they thought. Who ends up being the winner? For that, you will have to attend the show to see.

Reason number three to see "SIX" is the costumes. Designer Gabriella Slade has done an exceptional job creating costumes that have become iconic with the show. How iconic you ask? When visiting the merch stand before or after the show, one of the options is to get beautiful pins of each Queen's costume. The costumes are made of fabrics and other embellishments that capture the light and give the show part of its concert feel. They also felt as though they paid homage to the different pop artists each of the Queen's musical stylings are inspired by.

Reason number four to see "SIX" is that it is Award Winning. After the show became the first new musical to open on Broadway on October 3, 2021, continuing the month-long celebration of Broadway reopening. As award season came around, it became a juggernaut during awards season, including eight Tony nominations and two wins. The first is for the costumes we've already discussed, and the second is for the Score by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. To continue the celebration, Toby Marlow became the first open non-binary person to win the Tony Award for best score.

Reason number five to see "SIX" is the alternates. I want to start by commending the show for taking the term understudy and replacing it with alternate. It takes some of the old stigma surrounding understudies out of the picture. The alternates in "Six the Musical" have tracks for up to three of the different Queens in the show. When I attended opening night, I was fortunate enough to see alternate Taylor Pearlstein in the role of Catherine Parr. What amazes me is that the next night she went on as Anne Boleyn. With each character being so different in style, seeing an alternate being able to take on multiple queens is amazing to see. A credit to her, if you hadn't seen the Instagram story, the call board, or the program insert, you would have had no idea you were seeing an alternate.

Reason number six to see "SIX" is the cast. Each of the women who take the stage in this show does a phenomenal job, from the cast members on stage to the band, also known as "The Ladies in Waiting." They all play so well off each other and find a balance for when their Queen gets to take the spotlight and when their Queen becomes part of the overall ensemble. Each of them has moments that will have you laughing, then moments later have you in tears from their story. It's a beautiful mix that makes you wish there was a Tony Award for best ensemble because this show is a true example of an ensemble show.
I could go on about what makes this show special and why it has become the juggernaut it is, but part of the show's fun is seeing it live and discovering what makes it great for you. Everyone could find "Six" more reasons that they love the show; these were just my top six. If you haven't purchased tickets yet, I recommend getting them as soon as possible to get the best seats you can. "Six: The Musical" runs through February 19. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the link below.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


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