By Michael Buzzelli
The six wives of Henry VIII rap battle for dominance as they sing their story in modern parlance in Marlow and Moss’s “Six the Musical.”
Think: A distaff “Hamilton” across the pond.
Things aren’t so merry for these wives of Windsor. Henry divorces two of them, and decapitates two more. They are, in chronological order:
Divorced: Catherine of Aragon (played on opening night by Jana Larell Glover) has a divorce is so messy that England leaves Catholicism behind and forms the Church of England.
Beheaded: Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube) has her head cut off for being as sexually free as her hubby. While Henry wanted a son, Anne’s daughter goes on to get a whole era named after her.
Died: Jane Seymour (Amina Faye) is not “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” but the O.G. Jane.
Divorced: Anna of Cleves (Terica Marie) was the only queen to live in luxury after her marriage to the monarch ended.
Beheaded: Katherine Howard (Aline Mayagoitia) may or may not have had an affair with her cousin Thomas.
Survived: Catherine Parr (Sydney Parra) is the only one to outlive the king.
Though he was famous/infamous historically, he was not a popular king when he was on the throne, and these ladies set out to prove it. While there were seven Henry’s before him, Henry VIII was such a royal pain that there were no kings named Henry after him.
The story of the regal dames isn’t really a story, just a song about each of them. Technically, “Six the Musical” is more of a musical revue than a musical, but it, literally and figuratively, dazzles. The six stars, each getting equal time to shine, are amazing.
Glover (who replaced regular Catherine, Gerianne Pérez) was spectacular. You won’t regret getting “stuck with the understudy” as you would with some shows.
The six are backed up by a glorious band banging drums and strumming guitars on a rock concert stage by scenic designer, Emma Bailey.
Gabriella Slade’s costumes are to die for. They sparkle with bling. It won’t be long before a drag queen bedazzles up Catherine of Aragorn’s gold lamé bodice and struts around dahntahn.
The show is energetic and fun, and it’s also short (under 90 minutes with no intermission) with top-of-the-line production values.
There’s an interesting side effect: It may cause you to look up the actual histories of the queens of Henry VIII, or, at the very least, cause you to get out of your chair and dance.
“Six” runs till March 19, 2023 at the Benedum Theatre, 237 Seventh Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. For more information, click here.