Six (musical)

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Divorced Beheaded Live in Concert!
Six Musical.jpg
MusicToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
LyricsToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
BookToby Marlow
Lucy Moss
BasisThe six wives of King Henry VIII
Premiere2017: Edinburgh Fringe
Productions2017 Edinburgh
2017 Off-West End
2018 UK tour
2019 West End
2019 North American tour

Six is a British musical with book, music, and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.[1] The musical is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII presented as a pop concert, as the wives take turns singing and telling their story to see who suffered the most due to Henry and should, therefore, become the group's lead singer.

The musical was first presented by Cambridge University students at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. It has since gone on to professional productions in the West End and internationally.


The six Queens introduce themselves performing at a pop concert, telling the audience that the position of the band's lead singer will be the prize for whoever they determine had the worst experience at the hands of their common husband, Henry VIII. Catherine of Aragon recounts how Henry wished to annul their marriage and place her in a nunnery when he began lusting after Anne Boleyn, much to her anger. In turn, Anne mocks Catherine about how Henry wanted her instead but then complains of the infidelity Henry partook in, which led to Anne flirting with other men to make him jealous and ending up beheaded in return. Jane Seymour announces it is her turn to partake in the contest, but is mocked for having had an easy time with Henry. However, while admitting she may have been the only one Henry truly loved, Jane claims that his love was conditional on her having produced a male heir and that she had stood by him despite knowing his many faults.

Themes relating to ideas of female beauty are explored in Hans Holbein's painting studio, where the Queens parody a dating app by presenting a choice of three women for Henry to marry. He chooses Anna of Cleves[a] but soon rejects her and annuls the marriage after seeing her non-resemblance to her portrait. She makes a show of complaining about living in a beautiful palace in Richmond with an enormous fortune and no man to tell her what to do but in reality ends up bragging about it. The Queens question this, and Anna decides to drop out of the competition in favour of returning to her lavish lifestyle. The Queens then belittle Katherine Howard[b] for being "the least relevant Catherine", but she in retaliation mentions flaws in the other Queens' reasons for winning. She then recounts her romantic history, having had many suitors even as a child, and at first relishes in her attractiveness; however, she soon reveals the emotional trauma and abuse she faced in each of these relationships.

As the Queens continue to fight over who is the true winner, Catherine Parr questions the point of the competition which defines them by their connection to Henry rather than as individuals. The Queens, however, do not listen and continue to argue. Frustrated, Parr tells of her separation from her lover and arranged marriage with Henry but mainly acknowledges her accomplishments independent of Henry. The other Queens, realising they have been robbed of their individuality, abandon the contest and declare that they do not need Henry's love to feel validated as people. They use their remaining moments on stage to rewrite their stories, singing together as a group rather than as solo artists and writing their own "happily ever afters."

Musical numbers[edit]

  • "Ex-Wives" – Company
  • "Ex-Wives (Reprise/Playoff)" – Company †
  • "No Way" – Catherine of Aragon and Company
  • "Anne Boleyn (Interlude)" – Company minus Anne Boleyn †
  • "Don't Lose Ur Head" – Anne Boleyn and Company
  • "Heart of Stone" – Jane Seymour and Company
  • "Haus of Holbein" – Company
  • "Haus of Holbein (Playoff)" – Company †
  • "Get Down" – Anna of Cleves and Company
  • "All You Wanna Do" – Katherine Howard and Company
  • "I Don't Need Your Love" – Catherine Parr and Company
  • "I Don't Need Your Love (Remix)" – Catherine Parr and Company ††
  • "Six" – Company
  • "Megasix (Encore)" – Company †

† Not included on the Studio Cast Recording.
†† Included as part of "I Don't Need Your Love" on the Studio Cast Recording.



Toby Marlow was selected in late 2016 by Cambridge University Arts Society to write a new musical to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the next summer. The idea for what became Six came to Marlow while studying in his final year at Cambridge University.[2] The initial six wives' concert concept occurred to him in a poetry class, and Marlow decided to get his friend Lucy Moss involved. Despite uncertainties, the pair wrote part of the show while studying for their final exams. Marlow researched by reading Antonia Fraser's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", while Moss viewed a documentary series, "Six Wives" by Lucy Worsley. At their first writing session together, they watched a 2011 Beyoncé concert and story-telling performance, Live at Roseland: Elements of 4.[3]

The writers thought of various popular singers in fashioning their characters. Catherine of Aragon is modeled off a mixture of Lemonade-era Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Hudson.[4][5][6] Her solo "No Way" incorporates components of real-life Catherine's Blackfriars speech.[6] Anne Boleyn features elements of Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, and Lily Allen.[6][5] In full-fledged productions, the actor portraying Boleyn typically wears space buns, which signals character roots in Miley Cyrus.[6] Boleyn also sports green to pay homage to "Greensleeves," referring to the myth that states that Henry VIII composed the song for Anne.[6] Marlow and Moss weave in the "Greensleeves" musical motif throughout the score.[7] Additionally, Jane Seymour emulates pop balladeers such as Adele, Sia, Rihanna, and Celine Dion.[5] Seymour's costume design consists of a black and white corset design which alludes to half-timbered houses.[6] Anna of Cleves radiates Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé's "Feeling Myself," Lorde's "Royals," and Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX's "Fancy."[5] Katherine Howard's story is recontextualised through her depiction which parallels young, sexualised pop stars like Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.[5] Katherine's costume design also features a choker, serving as a representation of her being beheaded.[6] Lastly, Catherine Parr's characterisation draws inspiration from Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé.[5]

Marlow and Moss lamented the lack of gender diversity within the theatre industry, which caused them to focus on themes of queerness while developing the show.[8] They wanted a cast that was predominantly female or non-binary and the story itself to feature queer narratives in a space which normally didn't.[8] Over the course of approximately 10 nonconsecutive days, Marlow and Moss established the foundation for the show.[4]

Edinburgh Fringe[edit]

The world premiere production of Six took place at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, presented by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society.[9] Although the production did not win any big awards, it was well-received and sold out of tickets at the festival.[6] Its popularity led to Six being invited back to Edinburgh Fringe the next summer, this time in one of the festival's larger venues.[6]

Professional debut and UK tour (2018)[edit]

The Edinburgh production and a subsequent showing back in Cambridge attracted the attention of producers Kenny Wax and Global Musicals, and they gave the show its professional debut on 18 December 2017, performing initially on four Monday nights although this was increased to six performances at the Arts Theatre.[10][3] A studio recording was released on 13 September 2018, featuring the original Arts Theatre cast.

Six began its first UK tour on 11 July at the Norwich Playhouse, returning to the Edinburgh Fringe on 1 August 2018. Six transferred to the Arts Theatre in the West End with an opening night on 30 August. The production closed on 14 October prior to continuing its UK tour. The UK tour ended on 30 December 2018 in Glasgow.[11]

West End (2019 - Present)[edit]

The musical re-opened for an initial 16-week run at the Arts Theatre on 17 January 2019. Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage with choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, set design by Emma Bailey, and musical supervision by Joe Beighton,[12] the initial run was extended until January 2021.[13] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the show was forced to take a lengthy hiatus from March 2020.

Under special and unprecedented conditions, the show became one of the first to reopen. It reopened at the Lyric Theatre on 5 December 2020, with plans to return to the Arts Theatre the next year. Due to the ongoing pandemic, audiences were to be socially distanced, capacity limited to 50%, face coverings and temperature checks required, and contact tracing rules in place.[14][15] In mid-December, all London theatres were again required to close.[16]

North American tour (2019)[edit]

Six had its North American premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) in May 2019.[17] Directed by Jamie Armitage and Lucy Moss,[18] the Chicago premiere was produced by Six's London producers with the addition of Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. According to Chris Jones the Chicago production was a likely Broadway tryout.[19] Toward the end of the extended Chicago run,[20] where Six broke box office records for the CST, it was announced the show would go to Broadway in 2020.[21] The production moved to the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in late August and September 2019,[22] and made its Canadian premiere at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre in November.[23][24] The production moved to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota, from 29 November through 22 December, prior to its Broadway debut.[25]

Norwegian Cruise Line (2019)[edit]

On 6 August 2019, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that they would be showing performances of Six on three of their ships at different times.[26] The shows began in September 2019 on Norwegian's Bliss and will run until 2022.

UK tour (2019–2020)[edit]

A second UK tour of Six was officially announced on 5 September 2019. The production opened on 24 October 2019 at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. The tour was scheduled to run until 25 July 2020, concluding its run at the Birmingham Hippodrome.[27] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down theaters however, a deal was struck between the Society of London Theatre and U.K. actors union Equity; ensuring that West End and touring performers who are currently under contract will be able to continue on those preexisting terms and restart rehearsals or performances with revised dates once the shutdown ends.[28]

In June 2020, a drive-in style production at venues such as showgrounds, racecourses and airfields was planned,[29] but it too was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[30]

Australia and New Zealand (2020)[edit]

Six had its Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House, in January 2020.[31][32] The production was originally planned to tour to Melbourne's Comedy Theatre in mid 2020 and Adelaide's Her Majesty's Theatre in late 2020 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival but all performances have since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[33] The Australian production is produced by Louise Withers, Michael Coppel and Linda Bewick.[34] At some point, it is set to open in Wellington, New Zealand's Opera House.[35]

Broadway (2020)[edit]

Six began Broadway previews on 13 February 2020 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.[36][37] On the day of its scheduled Broadway opening, 12 March 2020, all Broadway theatres were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[38] Six planned to open when Broadway performances resume.[39][40] Moss and Armitage again direct, with choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, set design by Emma Bailey, costumes by Gabriella Slade, sound by Paul Gatehouse, lighting by Tim Deiling, and orchestrations by Tom Curran. The original principal cast is the same as the show's 2019 North American tour.[41]

Chicago (2021)[edit]

On 4 August 2019, at the final performance of the Chicago premiere, it was announced that Six would return to the city at the Broadway Playhouse.[42] It is scheduled to begin 5 October 2021, after two postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to run to 30 January 2022.[43]

Principal cast[edit]

Role Edinburgh premiere
Off-West End
Original UK tour
(2018) &
West End cast
Original North American tour
(2019) &
Broadway previews
Catherine of Aragon Megan Gilbert Renée Lamb Jarnéia Richard-Noel Adrianna Hicks
Anne Boleyn Ashleigh Weir Christina Modestou Millie O'Connell Andrea Macasaet
Jane Seymour Holly Musgrave Natalie Paris Abby Mueller
Anna of Cleves Tilda Wickham Genesis Lynea Alexia McIntosh Brittney Mack
Katherine Howard Annabel Marlow Aimie Atkinson Samantha Pauly
Catherine Parr Shimali de Silva Izuka Hoyle Maiya Quansah-Breed Anna Uzele

Notable West End replacements[edit]

Show co-creator Toby Marlow also filled in as Catherine Parr for two West End performances on 28 July 2019, due to a cast-wide illness.[45]


In a review of the Arts Theatre production, Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph called the show "gloriously – persuasively – coherent, confident and inventive".[46] Lyn Gardner of The Guardian wrote, "It may be cloaked in silliness, but Six makes some serious points about female victimhood and survival."[47]

In a review of the Chicago production, Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune praised the show as "dynamic" and a "blast", with a "sense of humor and spirited radicalism." Marlow and Moss are "gifted comic writers," he said, and he praised the "musical force of the intensely committed and talented actresses" in the Chicago cast. Jones suggests the show could use 10 more minutes of material that gets away from the plot's singing contest conceit, and toward the emotional center of the characters. He also thinks the orchestration of the songs could be more substantial. Jones believes Six has an audience that is ready for it, in part because it gets to a complex historical paradox and treats it with verve, the memories of women in history being tied to the life of a man.[48]

Hedy Weiss of WTTW praises the musical as "sensational", singling out each performer in the Chicago cast. Weiss also thinks the show makes a convincing case for each character, and in addition to praising the writers, notes the "dynamite direction by Moss and Jamie Armitage, and powerhouse music direction by Roberta Duchak" as well as, "Gabriella Slade’s glittering costumes . . . and Tim Deiling’s arena-style lighting".[49] According to Rachel Weinberg of Broadway World, "Six carries out [a] joyful and anachronistic takedown of the patriarchy" through the performances of a "brilliant" cast and a book and score with an inventive and sensational compositional method.[50] Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote that the musical is "pure entertainment", the writing is "wickedly smart", the "terrific singers" of the Chicago cast sell the show "unstintingly", and the production values "befit a splashy North American premiere with Broadway backing."[51]


Original West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 Laurence Olivier Award[52] Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O'Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarnéia Richard-Noel Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Joe Beighton, Tom Curran, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille Nominated
Best Costume Design Gabriella Slade Nominated

Chicago theatre[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards[53] Outstanding Production–Musical (Large) Won
Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Musical or Revue Won
Outstanding Director–Musical (Large) Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design (Large) Tim Deiling Nominated
Outstanding Music Direction Roberta Duchak and Joe Beighton Won

Original Broadway production[edit]

The original Broadway production was in previews starting February 13, and was set to open the day New York City's stay-at-home order was announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2020 Drama League Awards[54] Outstanding Production of a Musical Nominated
Distinguished Performance Award Brittney Mack Nominated


  1. ^ In the musical, the character Anna of Cleves goes by the German spelling "Anna" instead of the traditionally anglicised "Anne". This distinguishing spelling leaves "Anne" for Anne Boleyn.
  2. ^ The character Katherine Howard spells her name with a 'K' in the musical, though the historical figure is usually spelled as Catherine. This distinguishing spelling leaves "Catherine" maintained for the two other wives with that name.
  3. ^ The show began Broadway preview performances on 13 February 2020.[36] But on 12 March, the day of its scheduled opening, Broadway went dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[38]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Marking her-story: SIX announces UK tour and West End run". Official London Theatre. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  2. ^ "We wrote a musical during our it's on in the West End". The JC. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b Paulson, Michael (27 February 2020). "The Making of 'Six': How Tudor Queens Turned Into Pop Stars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Crompton, Sarah (16 January 2020). "With SIX, Playwrights Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow Dramatize the Tudor Dynasty - One Power Ballad at a Time". Vogue.
  5. ^ a b c d e f McHenry, Jackson (4 March 2020). "Henry VIII's Discarded Queens Get Their Revenge in Broadway's Six". New York.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Paulson, Michael (27 February 2020). "The Making of 'Six': How Tudor Queens Turned Into Pop Stars". New York Times.
  7. ^ Fierberg, Ruthie (3 March 2020). "Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss Designed Their Global Sensation SIX for Viral Success". Playbill.
  8. ^ a b King, Eric (30 June 2020). "Now List 2020: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss Are Writing Inclusivity (And Hilarity) Into Their Historical Musical Theater". Them.
  9. ^ Wilcock, Tim. "Edinburgh Fringe 2017".
  10. ^ "New musical about Henry VIII's wives finds its West End cast". WhatsOnStage. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  11. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy (29 August 2018). "Six extends in the West End". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Six the musical is returning to the West End next year". Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  13. ^ Perks, Daniel. "Six the Musical extends until 2021 in the West End". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  14. ^ McPhee, Ryan (6 December 2020). "Six Resumes Performances in London's West End December 5". Playbill. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Six musical announces socially distanced West End run at new venue and Salford Christmas season | WhatsOnStage". Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  16. ^ "London theatres 'devastated' to close again under tier 3 restrictions". BBC News. 14 December 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  17. ^ Franklin, Marc J. (24 May 2019). "Go Inside Opening Night of Six at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Chicago Shakespeare Theater: SIX". Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  19. ^ Jones, Chris. "Chicago Shakespeare to nix 'Broomsticks' and premiere new rock opera 'Six'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  20. ^ BWW News Desk (20 May 2018). "SIX Extends Chicago Run Through August 4th". Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  21. ^ Paulson, Michael (1 August 2019). "Divorced. Beheaded. Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  22. ^ Meyer, Dan (26 August 2019). "What Did Critics Think of Six at American Repertory Theater?". Playbill. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  23. ^ Faulder, Liane (9 November 2019). "Six amplifies empowering messages with Broadway-bound hit at the Citadel". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  24. ^ Nestruck, J Nelly. "Edmonton's Citadel Theatre nabs Canadian premiere of hit London musical Six". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  25. ^ Meyer, Dan. "Six Continues American Conquest With Ordway Engagement This Fall". Playbill. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  26. ^ "SIX: The Musical Coming to Norwegian". Norwegian Cruise Line. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  27. ^ Wood, Alex (5 September 2019). "Six the Musical tour casting announced". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "SIX Musical Will Play Drive-In Style Across the U.K." Playbill. 29 June 2020.
  30. ^ Wiegand, Chris (15 July 2020). "UK tour for hit show Six and top music acts axed due to local lockdown concerns". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  31. ^ McPhee, Ryan (12 November 2019). "Six Finds Its Australian Royals as Musical Continues World Domination". Playbill. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  32. ^ Cooper, Nathanael. "Divorced. Beheaded. Live: Musical about Henry VIII's wives coming to Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  33. ^ Time Out (23 March 2020). "Six the Musical". Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  34. ^ BWW News Desk (30 October 2019). "SIX THE MUSICAL Will Tour Australia In 2020!". Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  35. ^ "'Six' The Musical to premiere in Wellington in July 2020". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  36. ^ a b Meyer, Dan (24 February 2020). "Grosses Analysis: Six Snatches a Million-Dollar Crown in First Full Week on Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  37. ^ McPhee, Ryan (1 August 2019). "Six Musical, Putting Henry VIII's Wives in the Spotlight, Heads to Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  38. ^ a b Whitten, Sarah. "New York's Broadway will go dark as restrictions tighten to prevent coronavirus spread". CNBC. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  39. ^ "Six holds reviews before Broadway opening is cancelled". Broadway News.
  40. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Breaking: Broadway Shutdown Extends To June". Broadway World. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  41. ^ Greg Evans (10 September 2019). "Broadway's Upcoming 'Six' Musical Casts Wives Of Henry VIII". Deadline. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  42. ^ BWW News Desk (4 August 2019). "SIX to Return to Chicago in Summer 2020". Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  43. ^ "COVID19". Broadway in Chicago. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  44. ^ a b BWW News Desk (28 June 2019). "Courtney Bowman, Danielle Steers, Collette Guitart, and Shekinah Macfarlane Will Join SIX; Plus New Six Month Booking Period Announced". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  45. ^ Fierberg, Ruthie. "Six Composer Toby Marlow Steps in at Sold-Out Shows After Cast Illnesses". Playbill. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  46. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (28 August 2018). "Six review, Arts Theatre: gloriously musical meeting with all Henry VIII's wives". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  47. ^ Gardner, Lyn (10 January 2018). "Six review – Henry VIII's wives form girl band to take a pop at history". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  48. ^ Jones, Chris (23 May 2019). "Now at Chicago Shakes, 'Six' gives these Tudor wives a voice and could be a huge hit". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  49. ^ Weiss, Hedy (23 May 2019). "In Knockout Musical 'Six,' King Henry VIII's Wives Have Their #MeToo Moment". WTTW. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  50. ^ Weinberg, Rachel (25 May 2019). "BWW Review: SIX at Chicago Shakespeare Theater". Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  51. ^ Green, Jesse (2 June 2019). "On Chicago's Stages, Women With Problems". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  52. ^ "Olivier Awards 2019: Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  53. ^ Jones, Chris (22 October 2019). "2019 Equity Jeff Awards: A rare double victory for Steppenwolf; Chicago Shakes' 'Six' takes top honors. See the winners". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  54. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Breaking News: Drama League Announces 2020 Nominations". Retrieved 1 May 2020.