Monday, November 15, 2021

Six (Broadway)

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New York. Henry VIII’s six ex-wives, all of them seemingly alive and donning glittery corsets, come together onstage for a concert, asking the audience to judge who among them is the best fit to be queen by telling their stories through song and dance. Divorced Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks) sings about, well, divorce. Beheaded Anne Boleyn (Andrea Macasaet) jives to a playful tune about not losing one’s head. Jane Seymour (Keirsten Nicole Hodgens) who died of natural causes belts out a ballad of devotion and never-ending love. Divorced Anna of Cleves (Brittney Mack) raps about how her portrait with which the king was fascinated failed to match her actual face. Beheaded Katherine Howard (Samantha Pauly) lights up the stage with a flirty pop track about promiscuity. And last but not the least, Catherine Parr (Anna Uzele), the only one who actually survived, ruminates about how moot the concert is considering how a comparison of the six of them just reinforces the entrenched patriarchal nature of how they are all written in history in the first place.

Whatever who wrote this was smoking, I’d like to have some, please. No wonder the ticket was so expensive. This is not a musical. This is a rock concert. Of Henry VIII’s six ex-wives. Catherine of Aragon. Anne Boleyn. Jane Seymour. Anna of Cleves. Katherine Howard. Catherine Parr. In New York, rocking the stage with song and dance numbers like a reunion concert of the Spice Girls. Six is creative and highly imaginative, I must say. Clocking in short at just an hour and a half, you end up wanting more.

But what else can you really add to this story, to be honest? A lot of people already know a lot about these women, except maybe for the not so popular ones. This is a post-modern reimagining of what could have been if all the six ladies actually met in real life and decided to form a girl group. Many of them overlapped and probably knew and hated each other after all. In the end, they claim their own history. Or HERstory. It is all theoretical of course, but hella fun nonetheless.

The book comes with two pages of A Little Bit of Her-Story, which gives you some details about each one of the six as well as a juxtaposition of their portraits with those of their corresponding actresses. It’s informative and serves as a good refresher if you have already forgotten about this particular segment of British royal history. It also indicates the queenspiration for each, which is already quite obvious from the way each one of the six performs her solo song and dance number.

Catherine of Aragon says Beyoncé and Shakira was the inspiration, although it wasn’t that evident in “No Way”. Hicks sets the bar high and starts everything off with a lot of energy, though. Anne Boleyn’s “Don’t Lose Ur Head” is playful and very pop, albeit not immediately obvious to be Avril Lavigne-inspired. Jane Seymour got the ballad which Hodgens sings con mucho gusto but not quite Sia or Adele, not to mention “Heart of Stone” is not that catchy or maybe just because it makes her feel too much of a martyr.

Mack gets to rap as Anna of Cleves with “Get Down” so Nicki Minaj is a given. I must admit that the variety of musical flavors for each performance has been amusing so far. There’s just something for everybody! Pauly’s Katherine Howard is the most obvious of the bunch, with the high pony obviously alluding to Ariana Grande. Her “All You Wanna Do” is very millennial pop. And Yes, Uzele’s Catherine Parr sounds a lot like Alicia Keys as she sings “I Don’t Need Your Love” with an evident R&B twist.

In the end, the girls reclaim their own story with a last five-minute remix of “Six” and encourages you to think. Are the six of them known for being Henry VIII’s wives or is Henry VIII known for having had the six of them?

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