Just like Hamilton, the musical SIX is about history. Just don’t confuse its six stars with Chicago’s six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail.
The main characters of this already-popular fan-favorite show, which premiered in London and is now touring around the world, are the six wives of Henry VIII. The king’s marriages were notorious; the beheading of Anne Boleyn — Henry’s most famous wife — was likely taught in your school. The cast includes Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Abby Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) as Jane Seymour, Brittney Mack as Anne of Cleves, Samantha Pauly as Catherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr.
The show, created and written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, is a modernized retelling of these marriages, presented as a pop concert. The show is mostly sung-through, meaning there is little dialogue, and there is no intermission. Marlow and Moss originally conceived the idea as a concept album while they were in college at Cambridge University in 2017. Today, the songs are streamed, on average, 300,000 times a day, making the cast recording the second highest-streaming one in the world, according to show sources.
Before reaching Broadway in 2020, Six will make its way to Cambridge, Massachusetts; Edmonton, Alberta; and Saint Paul, Minnesota. Here’s everything you need to know about the songs and the histories of the characters so you’re ready to see the show when performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre start February 13.
Who was Henry VIII?
Henry, who was part of the Tudor family, was born on June 28, 1491. He took the throne as the king of England in 1509 at age 17 after his father, Henry VII, passed away. It was Henry VIII who made “our world modern” with England’s break with Rome, the Reformation, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, according to Hampton Court Palace. He is mainly remembered for his six wives. Henry VIII ruled until his death in 1547 at age 56.
Catherine of Aragon (married: 1509)
Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII at age 23, shortly after he assumed the throne. She had previously been married to Henry’s older brother, Arthur, who died. Her marriage to Prince Arthur made her the Princess of Wales — the same royal title held by Princess Diana. During their more than 20-year union, Catherine and Henry had three children, but only one survived: Mary, who later became Queen Mary I, was born in 1516. Catherine was interested in religion, sewing, dancing, and a bit more religion. She was the queen of England from 1509 to 1533, when Henry annulled their marriage. He was angry that they did not conceive a male heir to the throne and he believed his marriage was cursed. She was forced into isolation and died in 1536.
Music style: In Six, Catherine of Aragon (played by Adrianna Hicks) sings in the style of Beyoncé and Shakira. On the album, Catherine of Aragon sings “No Way.”
Anne Boleyn (married: 1533)
Previously Henry’s mistress, Anne Boleyn married Henry in 1533 at age 31. She was a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and loved fashion, dancing, flirting, and collecting evangelical works. She was known for bringing about the break with the Roman Catholic Church and is rumored to have had a sixth finger. The couple had one daughter, Elizabeth (who later became Queen Elizabeth I). Anne, too, could not produce a son, and Henry VIII ordered an investigation of her for treason. She was later found guilty of many crimes including adultery, incest, and plotting to kill the king. In 1536, Anne was beheaded on Tower Green in London.
Music style: In Six, the character of Anne Boleyn (played by Andrea Macasaet) sings in a style similar to Lily Allen. On the album, Anne sings “Don’t Lose Ur Head.”
Jane Seymour (married: 1536)
Jane Seymour was a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn and was religious and obedient. While Anne was still alive, Henry sent Jane a gift of money, which she refused. Ten days after Anne’s beheading, Jane wed Henry VIII. She gave birth to his first male heir, Prince Edward, in 1537. The birth was difficult, and Jane died two weeks later from complications. She was the only one of Henry VIII’s wives to receive a queen’s funeral, and he is buried beside her at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She is thought to be his favorite wife, according to History Hit, because she was the only one to produce a son who survived.
Music style: In Six, Jane (played by Abby Mueller) sings in a similar style to Adele and Sia. On the album, Jane Seymour sings “Heart of Stone.”
Anne of Cleves (married: 1540)
Anne’s main goal was to stay alive, considering how her husband’s previous wives died. When the two met, Henry disguised himself. According to a witness, Anne turned away from him as he kissed her and Henry was “marvelously astonished” by it. The king was 49 years old when he wed Anne, who was 24. But soon after, he wished to have their marriage annulled, as he was in love with a 17-year-old. Anne admitted they had not consummated the marriage, in that they did not have any children together. She was given a generous settlement, including Richmond Palace and Hever Castle. Anne died in 1557, likely of cancer.
Music style: In Six, Anne (played by Brittney Mack) sings in the style of Rihanna. On the album, Anne of Cleves sings “Get Down.”
Catherine Howard (married: 1540)
Catherine was a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves and was Anne Boleyn’s cousin. Henry was thrilled with his 17-year-old bride. But he soon found out that Catherine had an affair with his courtier Thomas Culpeper. Like Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard was arrested and beheaded on Tower Green in London, in 1542. They too did not have any children together.
Music style: In Six, the character (played by Samantha Pauly) sings in the style of Ariana Grande and Britney Spears. Catherine sings “All You Want to Do” in the show.
Catherine Parr (married: 1543)
Henry VIII was Catherine Parr’s third of four husbands. Her mother was a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, and Parr herself was friendly with Princess Mary. As a wealthy widow, Catherine Parr enjoyed writing books and encouraging education. She became the first woman in England to publish books under her own name and in English. After marrying Henry VIII, she helped him reconcile with his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. They followed Prince Edward in succession to the throne. Catherine Parr remained married to Henry VIII until his death in 1547. Afterward, she remarried a fourth time, but she died after childbirth in 1548.
Music style: Catherine Parr’s character (played by Anna Uzele) in Six sings in the music style of Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé. Her song is “I Don’t Need Your Love.”
Six begins previews February 13, 2020, with opening night set for March 12 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
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