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Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

Six queens reign at Crown

Worldwide smash hit musical SIX THE MUSICAL has arrived in Perth for a limited season. From humble beginnings it now has firmed its grip on Broadway, the West End, and is breaking ground with the runaway success of its online presence. The show itself is a sight and sound spectacular, and whether you want a history lesson or simply to rock out for the night, has something for you.

The show was first conceived when writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss were studying at Cambridge University. Marlow had been selected to author a musical for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and it grew from there. Multiple performances and seasons were lost to COVID, but the enduring popularity of the show- thanks in no small part to streaming and TikTok ensured it didn't go anywhere, and the show now has multiple international tours ongoing, as well as indefinite residences on both the West End and Broadway. The show itself offers a new take on the history that many are familiar with but very few actually know. Many know Henry VIII had six wives, some know their names and few will know their actual stories, with the most common knowledge of them being the six word rhyme that opens the show; 'Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived', being the mnemonic used for each of their fates. SIX THE MUSICAL seeks to change that and ensure you know more about each of the six, and understand why generalising them simply as the six wives is wrong.

The show begins with a high energy pop number featuring all six stars, who then tell their own stories. Each wife's vocals and attitudes are inspired by contemporary pop divas, and each song could (and in some cases does) find itself on today's charts. Phoenix Jackson Mendoza is the first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Her song 'No Way' is a powerful song of self-affirmation in the face of adversity and doubt, drawing inspiration from Catherine's historical speech at Blackfriars (in which Aragon makes a final powerful plea to her husband who is intent on divorce. Catherine ended her speech by simply leaving- a 16th century mike drop- and the song carries that theme through it). Both in history and in the show, Aragon is hopeful but refuses to yield, with Jackson Mendoza being the perfect model of, singing with a degree of hope underpinned by power. Find more about Jackson Mendoza's journey and what she thinks of her character in my interview with her.

As Anne Boleyn- perhaps the most well known wife- is Kala Gare. Channelling popstars such as Lily Allen and April Lavigne, Gare delivers a gloriously catchy bop about her carefree approach, which is what leads to trouble. The reasons for her downfall are vague in the song, not that history tells a better story; Boleyn's inability to produce a male heir led Henry to more or less invent a series of charges against her which a stacked jury upheld. Instead, Gare sings a tune that will stay with you for days, whilst her comic timing is simply brilliant throughout the show.

The third wife, Jane Seymour, is played wonderfully by WAAPA grad Loren Hunter. Hunter very much eases into the role, with a song that steadily builds into a phenomenal power ballad entitled 'Unbreakable.' The song, and Hunter's performance, are simply outstanding, raising the roof with an emotional and self-assured song that is inspiring and haunting in equal measure.

Tasked with talking down the fate of fourth wife Anne of Cleves is Kiana Danielle. In a case of fact being stranger than any conceivable fiction, Henry VIII was enamoured by a portrait of Cleves by Hans Holbein. Holbein himself is the theme for a superb kaleidoscope of electronic dance music and rave-style staging in the song 'Haus of Holbein,' which leads into Kiara Danielle's solo piece 'Get Down' a delightfully indulgent shout out to the life of excess Anne of Cleves was able to live thanks to the very generous divorce settlement she was given. Rather than coming across as bratty, Danielle gets the audience on board with her sharp style and uncompromising, unapologetic portrayal.

Fifth wife Katherine Howard is played brilliantly by Chelsea Dawson. Howard's journey to beheading is even more fraught than Anne Boleyn's, and the song- 'All You Wanna Do'- is sexy and fast paced shoutout to this. Dawson's skills come to the fore in a song that becomes increasingly emotional and raw, as Katherine Howard realises in four minutes what historians have grappled with for nearly five hundred years: that perhaps the men in her life ought to shoulder some of the blame for her reputation and downfall.

Finally we meet Catherine Parr played by Vidya Makan. As the last queen to sing, the character first illustrates the theme of the show in hindsight, that the six are famous simply-and only- for the relation to the shared husband. A wonderfully touching moment of shared experiences gives way to Parr's song of strength and desire to be her own person. Makan delivers this side of Parr superbly, summing up the theme of the show with a perfectly delivered song. United as six, the cast finish the show with two wonderful powerhouse songs, the only thing they take from a joyous end is the fact that one of the songs will undoubtedly lodge firmly in your mind for days to come.

Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre

The cast are brilliantly supported by the Ladies In Waiting- four tremendously talented musicians who, rather than simply providing the music, are characters in themselves, each adding to the many layers of the show, with their catchy tunes but one facet of their brilliant performance. The staging appears at first as too small for the large Crown stage, but the performances quickly fill the room with awesome lighting and choreography. This requires each performer to be a genuine triple threat, a brief they all hit. Indeed, whilst you may not know these six incredible performers now, I can guarantee you'll come across them in major roles again, and it will be hard to not think of these perfectly (pardon the pun) executed roles when you see them again. I also appreciated that, whilst SIX THE MUSICAL already has a large footprint, this show does not simply seek to be a carbon copy of something that is already known and liked. Each character is played with unique style and flair, and the amazing vocals showcase the talent of these six brilliant women rather than seeking to redo previous versions.

This show is, in short, mind blowing. You will leave with a smile on your face, and the song in your heart will be a spark; a spark that will surprise you and those around you. The aftermath is not typical for after a show, with the entire audience captivated long after the lights come up. Everyone can't help but ponder the show more, leading to an array of poignant and powerful moments from an audience that has learned in 75 minutes how to stand up for themselves. I saw grown men debating which queen they most aligned with; I saw a primary school aged boy fiercely debating the adults he was with about the relative virtues of each queen and why each deserves a place in history; I saw the line for photos held up by six teenage girls deciding which queen they felt they aligned with most, a conclusion they finally proved with broad smiles on their power poses.

What's more, the many layers of this fantastic show allow it to be whatever you want it to be. If you want a quick history lesson, a pop concert, a feminist cause celebre, or an empowering set of songs, you will find something in SIX THE MUSICAL.

SIX THE MUSICAL is at Crown Theater in Perth until December 18th. Tickets and more information can be found at SIX THE MUSICAL Australia

Pictures thanks to James D Morgan- Getty Images.



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From This Author - David Bravos

I sit in the small field of miners who enjoy theatre. My love began when The Phantom of the Opera toured, and I dragged my new girlfriend along. Interest in one show became an interest in many, as ... (read more about this author)


Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown TheatreReview: SIX THE MUSICAL at Crown Theatre
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Worldwide smash SIX THE MUSICAL has arrived in Perth for a limited season. From humble beginnings to a grip on Broadway and the West End, it is breaking ground with the success of its online presence. The show itself is a sight and sound spectacular. Whether you want a history lesson or simply to rock out for the night, it has something for you.

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SIX THE MUSICAL is a runaway success. Starting as a side project for Cambridge University students it has grown into a theater phenomenon not to mention its massive online presence. Perth is the next stop on the Australian tour, and star Phoenix Jackson Mendoza stopped by to share her thoughts and insights into the show as well as her life.

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