Review: SIX, Vaudeville Theatre

2024 marks six years of SIX: these Queens will be ruling the West End for many years to come.

By: Jan. 24, 2024
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Review: SIX, Vaudeville Theatre
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SIXSince Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss' little show about Henry VIII's SIX wives first debuted in 2018 at the Edinburgh Festival, it has done rather well. It quickly moved to the West End in January 2019, before opening at its current home – the Vaudeville Theatre – in November 2021, hitting 1000 performances in December 2023. Along the way, the show has also won over 35 international awards, including two 2022 Tony Awards. Not bad for a show conceived in a university poetry class.

If you have been living under a musical theatre rock, SIX brings the sextet of wives together in a pop competition to show who is the most hard done by, mixing the politics of the Tudor court with very modern attitudes. As this whip-smart show progresses, they each reclaim their own narratives, bringing new meaning to the clichés of what we think we know about this part of Tudor history.

This tightly produced show hangs on the singing, of course, but it is the defining of characters that elevates it to dizzy heights of success. Since the end of last year, a new cast has been reminding audiences why this celebration Tudor girl power remains so irresistible.

The current cast is a tight-knit group with chemistry as though they have been performing together for years. Nikki Bentley is confident and very cool as Catherine of Aragon, the complete opposite of the oppressed, cowed figure from our GSCE history books.

Thảo Therese Nguyễn is excellent as the snarky Anne Boleyn, channelling the knowingness of her Lily Allen-like lyrics with rudeness and cheek, with a cartoon-like energy.

SIX

Kayleigh McKnight could easily tip into syrup with the power ballad of "Heart of Stone" but holds the audience rapt with her vocal control as Jane Seymour.

Reca Oakley is genuinely hilarious as humblebragging Anna of Cleves; she brushes off Henry's rejection with nonchalent ease and treats us to veritable vocal gymnastics in "Get Down".

Inez Budd brings renewed resonance to "All You Wanna Do" as a #MeToo anthem, visibly shaking at her repeated violation as the (very) young Katherine Howard. It seems that in 500 years, we haven't actually progressed that much.

It's doubtful that Catherine Parr developed retrospective feelings of sisterhood with those who came before her, but Trinidadian/British actor Janiq Charles brings her natural accent and a meltingly smooth warmth to Catherine Parr.

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille's choreography is slick, taut and beautifully performed by the cast. The wonderful celebration of German electronica "Haus of Holbein" remains a highlight. The on-stage band brings great intimacy to the show and the score still sounds fresh, with its unchallenging range of pop, hip-hop, house music and soul. The clever, recurrent sample of “Greensleeves", supposedly written by Henry for Anne Boleyn, is a lovely nod.

2024 marks SIX well-deserved and triumphant years of SIX; these Queens will be ruling the West End for many years to come.

Read our interview with new Queen Thảo Therese Nguyễn here.

SIX is currently playing at the Vaudeville Theatre

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith




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