Rare is the girl-power present wherein the characters died 500 years in the past.
But that’s “Six,” the brand new musical about Henry VIII’s sextet of wronged wives that lastly opened Sunday night time on Broadway. It was a victorious second for this upbeat, high-energy British import. The present was initially slated to open on March 12, 2020, however hours earlier than the curtain went up, all theaters had been shut down for what became an 18-month eternity. Now “Six” is again and vivacious as ever.
That exuberance comes out of left discipline, contemplating the primary phrases we hear are “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” the previous history-class trick for remembering the English wives’ fates. “Off with her head!” is just not precisely “Spice Up Your Life.”
The Spice Girls, nonetheless, are as large a personality in “Six” as Anne Boleyn is. Same goes for Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears. Calling itself a “histo-remix,” the musical turns its queens into pop divas.
They’re on a tour, known as “Divorced, Beheaded, Live,” and the ladies — Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr — have a nightly competitors to determine who has led probably the most pitiable life. Kind of like “Cats,” however with cat fights.
“People say Henry was stone-hearted,” wistfully remembers Jane Seymour (Abby Mueller). “And I’m not sure he was.” Anne Boleyn (Andrea Macasaet, hilarious) shoots again: “There was this one cute time where I had a daughter, and he chopped my head off.”
“Six” is extra of a live performance than a conventional e-book musical, although, with 9 numbers and a megamix crammed into a fast 80 minutes. The songs right here, by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, are all whip-smart and catchy. With jukebox exhibits proliferating like rabbits, audiences are getting used to listening to trendy music onstage, however “Six” is without doubt one of the few authentic musicals in reminiscence whose rating is radio-ready.
As Katherine Howard, Samantha Pauly wails “All You Wanna Do,” about her lifelong attract to males, in a method that remembers Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” And Brittney Mack, as Anna of Cleves, shakes the ground with a rousing R&B quantity about Henry’s dismay once they lastly met, having solely seen her portrait earlier than then. “You say that I tricked ya,” she sings. “ ’Cause I didn’t look like my profile pic-cha!”
All of the lyrics are simply as intelligent. Marlow and Moss (good ring to that) are sharp and by no means pretentious. They’re a pair of historical past buffs on a nightclub dance flooring, sipping vodka sodas whereas chatting in regards to the Real Housewives.
During the opening quantity, the queens inform us, “You’re gonna hear us live — in consort.” And in a bubblegum music known as “Don’t Lose Your Head,” Anne explains her failed try and wed Henry thusly: “We tried to elope, but the Pope said, ‘Nope.’ ”
The one component missing in “Six,” which is co-directed by Moss and upper-and-comer Jamie Armitage, is scale. Emma Bailey’s set, a easy light-up live performance shell with an all-women onstage band, is roughly the identical because the one used on the manufacturing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2019, the place tickets went for much lower than what they price on Broadway. For a brief present — one impressed by Swift and Beyoncé, no much less — it wants extra manufacturing worth and dazzle: the royal remedy, should you like.