Review: SIX at Orpheum Theatre Memphis

Making HER-story on the Orpheum stage through November 26th

By: Nov. 22, 2023
Review: SIX at Orpheum Theatre Memphis
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

You likely learned the rhyme in history in school. Divorced-Beheaded-Died-Divorced-Beheaded-Survived. Everyone knows who King Henry VIII is because of his six wives. Most of us can name each of his wives but have no idea who was wife to King Henry VII. For me, a prominent Tudor history geek, it was the concept and the story that drew me to Six the musical. When I first learned about it, I was obsessed before I even heard the songs.

I came for the history, I stayed for the songs, the choreography, and the pure pop sensation that the musical is! 

As a graduate of a musical theatre program myself, I absolutely love the origin story of Six. In 2016, a student at Cambridge University student was selected by the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society to create a new musical. The musical would be presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Toby Marlow, a senior at Cambridge, rose to the challenge. He created a concept about the re-telling of the six wives of King Henry VIII and partnered with fellow student Lucy Moss to bring his vision to life. 

The musical premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on July 31, 2017 and ran until October 14, 2017. The tickets sold out every night and they were invited back to the Edinburgh Festival in 2018. The show drew the attention of producers Kenny Wax, George Stiles, and Wendy and Andy Barnes. The first professional production of Six premiered at the Arts Theatre in London's West End and ran for six nights. Afterwards, it went on a brief tour across the UK between July 2018 and December 2018. The show made its West End premiere on January 17, 2019. All of the cast members from the touring production reprised their roles and the show was directed by Lucy Moss. In 2019, it was announced that Six would make its pre-Broadway premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and ran for an extended run that broke box office records. It officially began Broadway previews on February 2020 at the Lena Horne Theatre. On the day of its scheduled opening night, however, all of Broadway closed down due to Covid-19. It resumed previerws in September 2021 and finally had their opening night performance on October 3rd, 2021. Six went on to receieve eight Tony nominations, winning two including Best Original Score and Best Costume Design in a Musical. 

The show is a fun mixture of vibrant colors, toe-tapping choreography, and plenty of show-stopping musical numbers. Please keep in mind: it is a CONCERT. There were many older patrons whispering around my best friend and me, saying it was much too noisy and they weren't amused with the "constant screaming". If you don't like loud pop concerts, this is not the show for you. But if you do go, you will have the time of your life. And I highly recommend you go. 

I saw the show on Broadway right after the show opened post-pandemic and it was the most fun I have ever had in a theatre. Each queen has a different personality but they blend together beautifully, both their voices and personalities, to rewrite HERstory (get it?) Each queen was inspired by various musical icons. For example, Catherine of Aragon is a mixture of Beyonce and Shakira while Katherine Howard is modeled after Britney Spears and Ariana Grande

HUGE kudos to not only the queens at last night's performance, but to the entire company. That includes the "Ladies in Waiting" who are performing as the band onstage. The show starts out as a competition to see which Queen suffered the most. It gets fairly heavy in some sections, as none of the queens (or women in that time, really) had it easy. Anne Boleyn, portrayed by Zan Berube, is mostly comic relief as she jokes about the King chopping her head off after she gives him a daughter. Kelly Denice Taylor portrays Jane Seymour by singing a tragically beautiful ballad about being in love with the King and losing her life right after she gives birth to the King's only son. And let's not forget Katherine Howard's many encounters with men, the song growing more and more intense as she goes on. Aline Mayagoitia's powerful belt barely wavers as her character deals with constant abuse. Despite the heavy content at times, it is still a fun and hilarious production. One of my favorite songs is "Haus of Holbein" which is essentially a rave. "Don't Lose Your Head" and "Get Down" are some other favorites, that are bops that will refuse to leave your head for days! Terica Marie portrays Anna of Cleves, Henry's German wife who was cast aside for her "meager" looks but undoubtedly had the best life out of all of them (and one of the best songs for sure!) Jana Larell Glover, as Catherine of Aragon and Adriana Scalice as Catherine Parr, act as book-ends in a way, as the first and last wives of Henry and ultimately rewriting their stories so that they never said "yes" to the King's proposal. And of course they do it in a way that rocks the stage. 

It's no wonder that this show won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design in a Musical. As you watch, pay attention to the details on the costumes. My favorite being the "B" brooch on Anne Boleyn's dress, inspired by the iconic pearl necklace with a "B" that Anne Boleyn is seen wearing in one of her most famous portraits. The queens all have stylish costumes and hairstyles that reflect both their personality and their musical icon inspiration. The show is as fun to watch as it is to listen to. 

It's a history lesson set to pop music. It's a fun and entertaining night out and you are sure to enjoy every minute of it. Don't miss these Queens taking their crowning glory!