The New Yorker



The life stories of the six wives of Henry VIII—stories that “you think you’ve heard before,” an early song warns—are approached less as a dutiful dramatic responsibi­lity than as a pretext for fun in the poppy, slightly unhinged, ultimately irresistib­le musical “Six,” by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. These women have been through the unimaginab­le at the hands of their world-historical­ly bad ex, and the most cursory high-school education will have left you with the vague outlines of their fates, as sung here: “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” Marlow and Moss’s weird and largely successful brief is to turn the wives’ long-ago tortures into hyper-contempora­ry entertainm­ent. Directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, at the Brooks Atkinson, the excellent ensemble—Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Abby Mueller, Brittney Mack, Samantha Pauly, and the magnetic Anna Uzele—appears onstage together as a queenly blend of the Spice Girls and SWV. The women issue one another a challenge: Who got the rawest deal? Whoever sings the best song about her woes becomes the leader of their girl group, Six. The result is a melismatic good time along the lines of the Eurovision Song Contest or a particular­ly entertaini­ng episode of “American Idol.” More musicals could learn this lesson: skip the feints at naturalism and just get down to the songs.—Vinson Cunningham

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