SIX the Musical

Six Musical Adelaide 2022Her Majesty’s Theatre. Louise Withers, Michael Coppell & Linda Bewick in arrangement with Kenny Waxx, & Andy Barns and George Stiles. 22 May 2022


The historical musical sings. Literally. Wildly. Rapturously. Outrageously.


Bravo to Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss for concocting such a vivid and “now” piece of rock theatre. 

Six is not just loud, cheeky and in-your face, it is historically apposite, a lesson in the mores of Tudor England and the rapacious monarchical lust for male succession.


In this contemporary interpretation, the six wives of Henry VIII do a playoff for posthumous glory. "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived." That’s their narrative and the refrain to their opening song which has a little something in common with the enumerations of the murderers in Chicago’s wonderful Cell Block Tango by Sondheim.

But there, any associations are vanquished, as are those poor privileged women. Let’s not forget they were queens. 

They are not forgetting it.

They are costumed in positively splendiferous regal bling, sexy dance costumes with olde English motif but out-there disco sexiness. These are the designs of Gabriella Slade and, as the show progresses, it becomes clear how well this designer has evoked the sense of character of each of the ex-queens in their glittering garb. They even subtly incorporate the ingenious stage practicality of microphone holders to enable hands-free dancing through the very vigorous routines created by choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. 


The six queens do a lot of hoofing in and around their big solos, each of which explains their particular destinies in this fascinating slice of English history.

The lyrics sing the tale in contemporary idiom, drawing in the associations of selfies and TikTok and, indeed, one discovers that these very songs have been DIY performance hits on TikTok for years now.

So, while the older audience members marvel at the skilful fun of the show and the exuberant abilities of the performers, the target demographic is just right in the zone.  The generations meet. And it is good. Because this show is really good. It is raunchy but also wholesome. It kicks up the heels and pulls no punches. After all, history is red in tooth and claw. 


So we meet Catherine of Aragon, the paragon who was married to Henry for 24 years. A ferocious female figure if ever one there was, and Phoenix Jackson Mendoza kicks up her spiteful heels a treat.

And here emerges Anne Boleyn, embodied fiercely by Kala Gare; sexy; beheaded. 

Jane Seymour, performed by Loren Hunter, is the one Henry truly loved, they say. She gave him an heir and died. 

Then there was Anna of Cleves, the one who took so much matchmaking but whose Hans Holbein portrait was to make and break her. In Henry’s eyes she didn’t live up to it. Luckily she came with a massive dowry. Kiana Daniele plays this role and as a character actor, singer, and dancer, she pretty well brings the house down.

Katherine Howard, deliciously portrayed by Chelsea Dawson, had a lousy reputation and an even lousier destiny. 

Catherine Parr was the wife who survived her king and, as Six points out emphatically, was not just the last wife but the first woman in England to publish books under her own name. Vidya Makan represents her not only with eloquent song but an exquisitely lithe dance presence. 


It is a fast and furious song and dance show. The onstage band bops with the dancers and a sense of exuberant pop pervades, with the various characters and their musical numbers designed to mirror the cult pop stars de jour.

It is a theatrical creation which has sought and found the contemporary feminist zeitgeist while, of all things, telling a tale of Tudor yore.


The pandemic has interrupted its impact upon the world but now, with a sizzling Australian cast and an excellence of production values, it just has to bliss out foot-tapping, time-clapping, effusively cheering audiences across the land.

Don’t let it elude you. Go.

Out of five, Six gets a six.


Samela Harris


When: 22 May to 12 Jun

Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre