Home Musical play Review: Six at the Grand Opera

Review: Six at the Grand Opera


Six – Grand Opera

POST-containment, I wanted an entertaining, distracting, uplifting, and catering comedy, ideally with characters named Noodle and Doodle.

When the Grand Opera House reopened on Wednesday night, I got most of the above and then a bit via Six, the rightly celebrated West End musical about the six hapless wives of Henry VIII.

If you remember, he divorced from Rome in order to make the same arrangement with poor Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn.

The story (story, sorry) didn’t end well for the six, but this show defines exuberance and is as energetic as a trip to the gym.

You might not think that the story of the women described as “divorced, beheaded, dead, divorced, beheaded, survived” is good musical theater material, but my God it is.

Writers and composers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, who wrote Six in their Cambridge finale, merged history with the power of girls.

They play with the fourth wall a bit and allow women known for their relationship with King Henry to speak and sing for themselves.

It works, fabulously. On stage we have drums, guitar and keyboard (in harpsichord mode), and this wonderful slice of musical theater is musically awesome, which matters.

It’s rock and roll with different musical genres deployed by each of the wives in their songs. Interestingly, the main man himself never appears – but that’s the point of this pretty feminist and very cheeky show.

The format is contemporary, hinting at reality TV as we start with a competition the woman has had the worst experience in. The performers who sing the songs and the lines are superb.

There was a well-deserved standing ovation, with fans in the stalls setting it all up on Instagram.

As Anne de Clèves (Shekinah McFarlane) noted, the portrait of Holbein who sold her to Henry embellished her: “I did not match my profile picture …”

Six races until Saturday. “Amazing” was the comment in the post-show buzz, though a Northern Irish audience isn’t always easy to please. There was a laugh at the pronunciation of “Protest-ant” and an audible squeal of excitement coming from the auditorium obediently 95 percent masked.

Five Olivier nominations and one Broadway run can’t be wrong. Grab this if you can.

It may not sound like traditional musical theater fodder, but Six – a musical about the wives of Henry VIII – works wonders. Photo by Johan Persson