From five hundred years of historical heartbreak to 75 glorious minutes of 21st-century lady power
Have you heard the news? After its smash-hit, Australian premiere season, SIX is making its way back to Melbourne and the ticket waitlist is now open.
Before show dates are announced, we thought we’d take a deep dive into the musical’s origins and its success overseas.
What is SIX: The Musical?
SIX: The Musical is a British history lesson like you’ve never experienced. Sure, if you know anything about 16th century England or the Tudors, you’ll be familiar with Henry VIII – but how much do we know about the women in his life?
That’s where SIX steps in. It’s all in the name really, as the six wives of, quite possibly, the most infamous British monarch, finally get to take the mic and reclaim their stories.
In short, they’re taking five hundred years of historical heartbreak, throwing it into a blender, and pouring out 75 glorious minutes of 21st-century lady power.
More than a history lesson though, SIX is also a fabulous pop concert, channelling the likes of Beyonce and Lady Gaga in a punchy, energetic, pop extravaganza. This is the greatest girl band, history didn’t know it needed.
Because enough is enough. No longer will these women be remembered as a single word in a rhyme. In SIX, they come back to life, teaming up as a royal Spice Girls if you will.
And every band needs a lead singer, and in this history lesson, the only way to decide who will stand at the front of this girl gang is to decide who has the worst time as Henry’s Queen. The only way to truly state your case – a good, old fashioned sing-off.
The original soundtrack has become an absolute hit, garnering almost 100 million digital streams since its release.
The musical was penned by young Brits Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, who wrote the show in just ten days while they were studying at Cambridge. It went on to tour the UK extensively and played a season on the West End where it was nominated for five Olivier Awards.
Is SIX: The Musical based on real events?
It is indeed! All six women at the forefront of SIX: The Musical are based on the six wives of the 16th-century British monarch, Henry VIII.
You probably know his story – broke away from Rome, launched the Reformation, established the Church of England – but one of the most discussed parts of his reign has to do with the six women he was married to throughout his life.
While most of the focus of our history lessons revolves around his story, SIX turns the tables, putting the women who had to endure Henry VIII at the fore. It really is a “joyful and anachronistic takedown of the patriarchy” (Rachel Weinberg, Broadway World).
Before we dive into the fierce, sassy, satirical fun of SIX’s contemporary take, let’s dive into the history books and get to know the women this story revolves around, and how they came to be here.
Catherine of Aragon, his first wife – and the widow of his brother Arthur (it’s an important fact if you’re unfamiliar) – who Henry was married to for almost 24 years and the mother of his eldest daughter Mary. Anne Boleyn, who he married just five days after annulling his previous marriage, causing Henry to break away from the Catholic Church and kicking off the English Reformation. Despite also giving him a daughter, her inability to bear a son soon led to their divorce. And then, with very little evidence against her, Henry also had her beheaded.
Just ten days after her execution, Henry went on to marry Anne’s lady in waiting, Jane Seymour. The pair were married for a little over a year before Jane gave birth to a son, the king’s third child and his first male heir. Unfortunately, due to complications with the birth, Jane died just 12 days later. His shortest marriage followed, staying just six months with German princess Anne of Cleves.
Next, he married Anne Boleyn’s cousin Katherine Howard. Though the marriage lasted a year, she was eventually accused of treason for committing adultery, and three months after being stripped of her titled she suffered the same fate as her cousin. His final wife Catherine Parr became known as the restorer of his court, uniting his children and legitimising those he had made illegitimate through annulment or divorce.
But there is so much more to these woman than these quick summaries that revolve around a history that doesn’t really belong to them. And that’s where SIX steps in, history be damned, his is herstory.
Meet the cast of the Australian production
Catherine of Aragon will be brought to the stage by Phoenix Jackson Mendoza. She made her musical theatre debut in the 2017 Australian Premiere of American Idiot as Ensemble/cover Whatsername. Other theatrical credits include The Boy from Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Bring it On The Musical. Mendoza also recently made her Television debut in Netflix and Channel 10’s Dive Club and later starred in the ABC’s first season of Stories from Oz.
Kala Gare will, once again, take on the role of Anne Boleyn. Her theatre credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (The Production Company), Terence McNelly’s Masterclass (Andrew Kay Productions), Rent (Chapel Off Chapel) and 50 Shades! (David Venn Enterprises). She’ also the lead singer of a band called Legacy. Gare is also a classically trained musician and her Musical Director credits include songs for Swingin’ Lovers! and Legally Blonde Junior.
Jane Seymour will be reprised by Loren Hunter whose most recent roles include Liza Minelli in The Boy from Oz (The Production Company), Evelyn May Murphy in Evie May (Hayes Theatre), and Jean in the Australian premiere of American Psycho (Hayes Theatre).
Anne of Cleves will be portrayed by Kiana Daniele, who made her professional debut in The Production Company’s Boy From Oz in 2018. In 2019, she took on the role of Baby in Immersive Cinema’s Dirty Dancing experience and also performed a guest role in Secret Bridesmaids Business.
Chelsea Howard will step into the role of Katherine Howard. In 2020, she made her professional debut in GFO’s production of Shrek The Musical. Recently graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, she has had the opportunity to appear in productions such as Les Misérables, The Drowsy Chaperone and Elegies: A Song Cycle.
Vidya Makan will again take on the role of Catherine Parr. She recently played Papa Ge in Once On This Island and is soon to play KT/Meg in Merrily We Roll Along (Hayes Theatre). Vidya was nominated for Best Performance In A Leading role for her portrayal of Dot/Marie in Sunday In The Park With George, and her other credits include Lady Capulet in Romeo And Juliet (Australian Shakespeare Company), Green Day’s American Idiot (Shake & Stir), and Air Race (Arena Theatre Company).
SIX: The Musical will arrive at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre in 2022. You can join the waitlist here to be the first to find out when tickets go on sale.