SIX at The Arts Theatre 7/3/19
Fresh from the announcement of their impressive five Olivier nominations (Best New Musical, Best Costume Design, Best Theatre Choreographer, Outstanding Achievement in Music, Best Actress in a Supporting Role) and their extension into 2020 at the Arts Theatre, Six is going from strength to strength, taking the West End by storm, and it’s obvious why. 

From the get-go, the energy from the cast is electric, and doesn’t falter once during the seventy five minute, one act show. This energy is so much of what makes this show charged, and has the audience bopping and laughing along as the pop concert style show progresses. 

Jarneia Richard-Noel gets the show going with an impressively sassy Catherine of Aragon, performing ‘No Way’ with an energy that easily fills the Arts and bringing a vibrant, fresh, bold strength to the longest reigning Queen. Next up is Millie O’Connell, bringing a totally different, almost childlike energy to Anne Boleyn within her song ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ which contains endless wordplay and modern teenage colloquialisms, including the triple entendre of the songs title (and yes, there are some wonderfully crude blowjob gestures). The audience love it of course, and O’Connell works with the writing duo Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’ lyrics to create Anne Boleyn’s story in a completely new way. Her comic timing throughout the show was impeccable, and often had the audience in stitches.

I was honoured to see Courtney Stapleton’s debut as Jane Seymour; after seeing Natalie Paris in the role last year, it’s awesome how Stapleton completely made it her own, bringing a vulnerability to the role and almost completely re-working the song ‘Heart of Stone’ to reflect on the pain and heartache that Seymour goes through. Her raw portrayal contrasted the sassy songs that came before and resonated with the audience. Alexia McIntosh is the most ballsy, brutish and unapologetic Anna of Cleves, and it was empowering to see; McIntosh is sassy, sexy and slays during her anthem, ‘Get Down’. Again, she brings a dynamic energy, with her iconic Anna of Cleves owning the situation as the “Queen of the Castle”.

Before the script started taking place, Marlow and Moss set out six aims for the musical, one of which is “to show that even 500 years later, there are still parallels to be found in the female experience”. ‘All You Wanna Do’, Katherine Howard’s hard-hitting pop life story runs horribly parallel to modern sexual abuse stories and absolutely achieves this. Aimie Atkinson takes the audience on a journey with Howard, starting with this wonderfully excited naivety, working her way through to physically trying to claw her way out; she handles the sensitive material beautifully, and again there’s got to be a nod to the wonderful writing duo of Marlow and Moss. Atkinson is both a vocal powerhouse and absolutely owns ‘K Howard’; empowering, sassy, vulnerable, naïve, strong… she’s endless. Maiya Quansah-Breed finishes off the competition with ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’, another ballad-y style song to accompany than the pop numbers. Her Catherine Parr is compassionate and caring, with a raw hatred of King Henry, and her vocals are too, raw and honest. 

The Best Supporting Actress Olivier nomination is well deserved, and although the Queens are incredible as their characters, the show’s strength lies in their support of each other; they barely leave the stage, working with the (also Olivier nominated) choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and amazing backing vocals to create this wonderful ensemble feel. 

A show unlike anything else on the West End at the moment, Six is self-aware, sassy, feminist, and hilarious; it’s is a powerhouse, and truly deserves all its awards and more recently Olivier Nominations. Six is booking at the Arts Theatre until 2020, so check out ‘Divorced, Beheaded, Live’ for a hysterically historical night out.