SIX THE MUSICAL at the Comedy Theater

Loren Hunter, Chelsea Dawson, Phoenix Jackson Mendoza, Kala Gare, Kiana Daniele and Vidya Makan
Photo by James D Morgan

SIX the musical is a must this winter in Melbourne. Short and sweet at just 75 minutes long, SIX will have you jamming in your seat, while listening to the six wives of Henry VIII tell their side of the story, as a reimagined pop girl group! Since its West-End premiere in 2019, SIX took the world by storm, with over 450 million Spotify streams and winning two Tony Awards earlier this month (Best Original Score and Best Costume Design in a Musical).

Originally presented by Cambridge University students as part of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SIX now plays in the West End, on Broadway, as well as touring the UK and Ireland, North America North and of course Australia and New Zealand. The most important legacy left by this musical, however, is the chance for the historical perception of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr will be rewritten and become much more than “Divorced, Beheaded, Dead, Divorced, Beheaded, Survivor”.

Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at the Comedy Theater
Kiana Daniele
Photo by James D Morgan

With a fresh and clever book, music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the storytelling in SIX is relevant, refreshing, rock and fascinating. Whether you know much or little about Tudor history, you will be pleasantly surprised by SIXthanks to the genius of Marlow and Moss. Marlow and Moss are also pioneers in their own right, with Marlow becomes the first openly non-binary Tony Award winner and Moss becomes the youngest director of a musical in Broadway history at 26.

Surrounding the exceptional talent of this powerful duo is the rest of the creative team who are equally talented and produce fantastic work. This includes an excellent electrifying set design by Emma Bailey, a light design by Tim Deiling worthy of an arena-spectacular and a choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille insightful, sharp and in tune with the score. Plus, Gabriella Slade’s award-winning costume design is delightfully stellar, blending a pop-rock girl group vibe with Tudor royalty..

And then of course there are the actors themselves, who give off so much energy that you wonder how they do it eight times a week! Phoenix Jackson Mendoza as Catherine of Aragon is a firecracker in “No Way” and strongly launches the competition between the wives. Kala Gare revitalizes and modernizes the legendary historical figure of Anne Boleyn, for whom Henry VIII separated England from the Catholic Church. In “Don’t lose your mind” Gare cheekily nails Marlow and Moss’ sassy lyrics, such as “sorry not sorry.” Gare makes Anne Boleyn her own, which isn’t easy, given the number of Boleyn performances over the past 500 years.

Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at the Comedy Theater
Hunter Loren
Photo by James D Morgan

Loren Hunter commands the scene as Woman Three, Jane Seymour, “the only one he really loved”. In the power-ballad”Heart of Stone “Hunter shines bright. Wow, can this woman sing, dance and act! Hunter is a true triple threat who is brimming with star quality and a real pleasure to watch. Her voice has an almost spiritual quality to it. Kiana Daniele stars as Anna of Cleves in “To come down”. Daniele’s performance coupled with the perfect lyrics of Marlow and Moss, offers a surprising and unique perspective to Anna de Cleves

Chelsea Dawson as Katherine Howard, the fifth wife and second to be beheaded, tells her side of the story compellingly and with strong conviction in “Whatever you want to do”. Finally, Shannen Alyce Quan as Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, deftly challenges her historical narrative in “I don’t need your love” and let the audience in admiration for his formidable voice. While Quan is a swing, with the role of Catherine Parr normally played by Vidya Makan, Quan’s talent and skill ensure that any audience who sees her play one of the many roles she covers will be truly very lucky.

Whether you come for the songs, the story, the costumes or just for a night of fun SIX will not disappoint you.

SIX the musical plays Melbourne Comedy Theater until August 7e. For more information and to book a ticket, visit sixthmusical.com/australia
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Review: SIX THE MUSICAL at the Comedy Theater
Kala Gare, Chelsea Dawson, Kiana Daniele, Loren Hunter, Vidya Makan and Phoenix Jackson Mendoza
Photo by James D Morgan