It’s no secret that the type of music I listen to consists of “showtunes,” otherwise known as songs from musicals. The other day, a friend of mine introduced me to a new set of showtunes from the musical Six. She had been listening to its music for a few weeks, raving about its catchiness and creative spin on history. Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six features a creative retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII. In case you need a refresher, there are quite a few rhymes and mnemonics to remember Henry VIII’s wives. Here are two I like:
King Henry VIII,
To six wives he was wedded.
One died, one survived,
Two divorced, two beheaded.
Boleyn and Howard lost their heads,
Anne of Cleves he would not bed,
Jane Seymour gave him a son – but died before the week was done,
Aragon he did divorce,
Which just left Catherine Parr, of course!
While “divorced” actually refers to annulment, these rhymes are catchy and fairly easy to remember. In Six, the wives (Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) all have songs recounting their tales. After listening to Six for a day or two, I found the music interesting enough to add to my Spotify playlist. The musical varies from others in its pop-concert style, and has a modern take on the history behind the wives of Henry VIII. On the negative side, some of the music is repetitive, and there are moments that seem too similar to Hamilton. Despite this, being a mash-up between Hamilton and a saucy girl band makes the musical pretty ingenious. Sassy lyrics and high energy scream for attention as the wives recount their lives from their perspectives, being seen as more than just reproductive vessels or victims of Henry VIII.
After giving it a chance, I’d say the musical is worth listening to at least once or twice. Six is a relatively new musical, having premiered in 2017 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before making its professional debut on off-West End. While it’s currently only being performed in London, Six is available to listen to on iTunes, Amazon Music, and other music services. It has also won and been nominated for various awards, such as Best UK Cast Recording and Best Ensemble in a Play or Musical.
“From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st century girl power. These Queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red.”