Review: The Sensational Queens of SIX Recount, then Remake HERstory at the NAC

Experience the Queendom for yourself and discover the backstory that makes these women so much more than just some old dude’s wives.

By: May. 22, 2024
Review: The Sensational Queens of SIX Recount, then Remake HERstory at the NAC
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Easily my most anticipated show of Broadway Across Canada's 2023-2024 season, SIX arrived at the National Arts Centre last night to a buzz of excitement and a plethora of sparkly merchandise (let’s not talk about how much I spent at the merch table).

Born out of London's West End by creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, SIX experiments with a vastly different style than your traditional Broadway show. With an 80-minute runtime and no intermission, SIX is staged like a live concert. No elaborate sets or props means that the focus is on the six actors as they each tell their story in girl-band style, with catchy songs, harmonized choruses, and fun choreography.

The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

When the show begins, the crowd is tasked with choosing which Queen will lead the band. The winner (or loser, depending which way you look at it) will be crowned based on who has the saddest sob story. The Queens each think that their life was the most miserable and that they should win. Each Queen sets out to prove their case to the audience by taking turns singing about their lives. The gaps between songs are filled with the Queens’ hilarious bantering and bickering amongst themselves. “What could be worse than a broken heart?”, earnestly laments Jane Seymour. “Umm… a severed head?!”, snaps Anne Boleyn in response.

The Ottawa cast consists of the recently crowned Queens of the Boleyn tour: Kristina Leopold as Catherine of Aragon, Cassie Silva as Anne Boleyn, Kelly Denice Taylor as Jane Seymour, Danielle Mendoza as Anna of Cleves, Alizé Cruz as Katherine Howard, and Adriana Scalice as Catherine Parr. The actors have varying degrees of experience, from those with tenure in the Broadway show, to those making their national tour debuts. However, the entire cast has incredible chemistry, charisma, and vocal prowess. The oft-lambasted sound at the NAC was in excellent form last night; the songs’ lyrics were all easy to follow, something that is vital with this musical.

Each Queen’s number has a distinct feel, taking inspiration from various pop, rock and roll, jazz, soul, and hip hop artists. The program notes indicate the musical inspiration for each Queen, as well as historical background notes.

The otherwise empty stage is enhanced by the lighting, designed by Tim Deiling. Each Queen has been designated a colour and the lights reflect this (Anne Boleyn’s colour is green, corresponding to a myth that claims Greensleeves – ironically, a song about a promiscuous woman – was composed by Henry VIII for her). The costumes, designed by Gabriella Slade, are modern, glittery, and sexy; moreover, they also cleverly incorporate Tudor elements into their design. The choreography (Carrie-Anne Ingrouille) is fantastic, at times understated; outrageous and bombastic at others.

Review: The Sensational Queens of SIX Recount, then Remake HERstory at the NAC
The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

SIX is a fast paced show that actually does a decent job at providing a historical summary of each of Henry VIII’s wives. The show has many layers and, depending how much you already know about Tudor history, there are some more subtle elements that are fun to pick up on. But best of all, the musical has a boisterous, quirky vibe that has the audience clapping along, laughing out loud, and rooting for each Queen in turn.

Saving the best for last, this is the must-see show of Broadway Across Canada’s 2023-2024 season. If you don’t already have tickets, I suggest you grab one of the few that remain so that you can experience the Queendom for yourself and discover the backstory that makes these sensational women so much more than just some old dude’s wives. SIX is on stage at the National Arts Centre through May 26th – click the link below for more information or to buy tickets.




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