By Katie Arvia
CHICAGO, Ill. (May 23, 2022) – Henry VIII gets the Hamilton treatment in Broadway’s SIX. The 90-minute production is aptly named for the six ill-fated wives of Henry VIII. The show is performed as an energetic, electrifying pop concert, featuring the sextet of queens. SIX includes nine clever and catchy songs that pull “queenspiration” from artists such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Ariana Grande.
A display of queens
SIX does an incredible job rewriting “herstory” in a way that allows Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr to reclaim their rightful place on the Tudor timeline. Each queen takes a turn singing and telling her story as the group tries to determine who suffered the most because of Henry. The “winner” of this musical competition will become the lead singer of their group.
I won’t give away too many spoilers, but by the end of the performance, the queens have all come together and have the opportunity to give themselves their own happily ever after. They sing about what their lives would’ve been like without Henry’s involvement. The finale of SIX is spectacular, and you’ll want to stick around until the very end. I would also recommend stopping by the merchandise table in the front lobby. Check out the fun t-shirts, pins, and more memorabilia (I treated myself to several items)!
Each queen had a beautiful voice and provided incredible vocals, but I was particularly moved by Jasmine Forsberg as Jane Seymour performing “Heart of Stone,” and my favorite song is the fun, upbeat “Haus of Holbein” performed by all six queens. On “Parr” with other Broadway shows, all of the music of SIX was performed live. However, a unique element was the all-female band (known as The Ladies in Waiting) that joined the queens on stage, rather than in a pit orchestra.
Watchable and re-watchable
The costumes, choreography, and historically accurate yet witty lyrics make for one of the best live performances I have ever seen. Instead of focusing solely on their relationship with Henry, the show tells each queen’s story and gives them an identity other than just a wife. When the show ended, I found myself wanting more. I left the theater wanting to learn even more about these six women; I can’t wait to see it again.
In fact, it was obvious from audience reactions that this was not the first time many attendees have seen SIX. Several audience members were singing along or were decked out in full-on queen cosplays. The show made its North American debut in 2019 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Now on its “Aragon” tour, SIX relaunched in Chicago on March 29. This was my first time seeing the show, but it won’t be my last.
SIX is the perfect show for all types of people, from folks who love Broadway, to those who are new to it. History buffs and feminists of all ages and genders will relish in this stunning performance. SIX is playing at the CIBC Theatre (18 W Monroe Street, Chicago) until July 3. Tickets range in price from $36 to $136. For more information, visit broadwayinchicago.com.