It was written by two university students, first aired in a converted hotel conference center on the outskirts of Edinburgh, then took the West End by storm. Today, the hit musical Six – in which the wives of Henry VIII perform a ‘histo-remix’ pop concert with songs such as Don’t Lose Ur Head – has become the talk of Broadway.
On Monday, the show created by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss during their last term at Cambridge University received eight nominations for this year’s Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical and best musical.
Moss, who is set to direct a new version of Legally Blonde at Regent’s Park Open Air theater in London, said she was in the middle of the first day of technical rehearsals for that show when her phone started ringing when the appointments have been announced. . “My head is really somewhere else right now,” she laughed. “There’s a lot going on.”
Moss, who at 26 became the youngest director of a Broadway musical for Six, initially wondered if she might open in a small off-Broadway venue instead. But the response to the musical when it was staged in Chicago encouraged the producers to decide to take it straight to a major New York theater. “Only a few things” were changed in the script and lyrics for the American production, such as changing “mate” to “friend,” and exchanging words that might sound strange with an American accent. (Broadway actors sing in their own accents.)
“Initially, we were concerned about whether [US audiences] would get it – do they know enough about British history, how much do they care about Henry VIII? But even if it’s not American history, the pop concert is an American form. American audiences know what to do in a pop concert situation.
The show was supposed to officially open on Broadway on March 12, 2020, but theaters across the city were closed due to the Covid crisis at 5 p.m., just hours before the curtain went up. The feeling that day, Moss said, had been a relief because she was so worried about whether it was right for theaters to still be open and whether her family should even visit a theater amid rising theater rates. ‘infection.
Moss is co-directing the production of Six on Broadway with Jamie Armitage. “Jamie and I did the show together as students in 2017 – I was the choreographer and he was the director.” The pair share the Best Director nomination, while Six costume designer Gabriella Slade, lighting designer Tim Deiling, sound designer Paul Gatehouse, choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and orchestrator Tom Curran are also nominated.
Moss and Marlow have almost finished writing a new musical, Why Am I So Single?, which is about friendship and dating for people in their twenties. They are also working on an animated family feature film.
Six has won the duo a legion of fans, known as the Queen, some of whom create tribute artwork that has decorated the foyer of Six’s rooms. Their fans also participate in cosplay and create Six costumes. “Our materials came from Shepherd’s Bush Market,” Moss told the Guardian earlier this year. “Once fans found out where to find Anne Boleyn’s gear, we had to go buy it all to make more costumes ourselves!”
The Tony Awards will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 12.
History in the Making: Six Timelines
Inspired by Lucy Worsley’s TV series and Beyoncé’s concerts, Moss and Marlow write songs for Six during college vacations and continue to create the musical in their final term.
The show is staged in a student production on the outskirts of Edinburgh and quickly begins to sell out
Producer Kenny Wax arranges for Six to begin a run of performances at the Arts Theater in London
As well as a successful tour, Six return to the Edinburgh Festival and perform to packed audiences
Six albums released; the cast recording has since had over 100 million streams
Begins a long tour at the Arts Theater
Six leaves the Olivier Awards empty-handed; he had been nominated in five categories
An American production of the musical opens in Chicago
Six opens at the Sydney Opera House and then tours Australia
On the day of the official opening of Six on Broadway, New York theaters close due to the pandemic
Six begins short run at Lyric in London as theaters reopen after lockdown
The show moves to its current West End home, the Vaudeville Theater
Six earns eight Tony Award nominations