SIX The MusicalUS National Tour
Music, Book, and Lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Directed By Jamie Armitage and Lucy Moss
Choreographed By Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Musical Direction By Katie Coleman
Orchestrations By Tom Curran
Scenic Design By Emma Bailey
Costume Design By Gabriella Slade
Lighting Design By Tim Deiling
Sound Design By Paul Gatehouse
Production Stage Manager- Peyton Taylor Becker
Company Manager Katie Pope
THE ROYAL QUEENS:
*Cecilia Snow (CATHERINE OF ARAGON)
Zan Berube (ANNE BOLEYN)
Amina Faye (JANE SEYMOUR)
Terica Marie (ANNA OF CLEVES)
Aline Mayagoitia (KATHERINE HOWARD)
Sydney Parra (CATHERINE PARR)
*NOTE: Cecilia Snow was reviewed for the Press night performance. The role is usually portrayed by Gerianne Pérez
THE LADIES IN WAITING;
Conductor/ Keyboard- Katie Coleman
Bass- Sterlyn Termine
Guitars- Liz Faure
Drums- Caroline Moore
Reviewed Performance: 12/7/2022
Reviewed by John Garcia, Senior Chief Theater Critic/Editor/Founder, THE COLUMN. Member, AMERICAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Oh, those Kray Kray Royals. What is it about this family across the oceans that holds our fascination, be it good or bad? As you are reading this review right now, the Royal family is trying to sweep under their bejeweled crowns and tiaras yet again a couple of scandals that have caused them to spit out their tea and gag on their cucumber sandwiches. One has to do with their sordid long and ugly history involving them and racism. Prince William’s Godmother while at an event she had the disgusting, racist nerve to ask a domestic abuse activist where she really came from and MOVED her hair to see this woman’s name badge! The others scandal swirls around the complex relationship between Princess Di’s sons. Prince William and his icy wife Kate were in Boston for the Earthshot Prize Awards, but their visit was completely overshadowed because Netflix dropped a bombshell by airing the first preview of Prince Harry and Megan’s intimate, very revealing upcoming documentary. This along with Harry’s upcoming autobiography has Buckingham Palace, and especially King Charles, shaking in their boots.
What truly started the gossip tabloids to salivate and the paparazzi to treat some members of the Royal clan like rare animals and “they” were the hunters going in for the “kill” with their cameras to get that perfect picture was, of course, Princess Diana. And we all know what happened to her.
Our various entertainment mediums have fed us all sorts of TV shows, movies, and stage productions about the Royals. Like Netflix’s award-winning, ratings smash THE CROWN, STARZ’s THE WHITE QUEEN and THE SERPENT QUEEN, and HBO’s ELIZABETH. On Celluloid, there is THE QUEEN, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, ELIZABETH, and on and on. In 2019 Broadway brought DIANA the musical live on stage.
This brings us to 2021, where Broadway welcomed from the West End, the five-time Laurence Olivier nominated musical, SIX. The fascinating backstage story of this new musical was that it did not come directly to the Great White Way, instead, it made a few detours around the nation-including a sad “holding” period in one situation for over a year!
The idea of this musical popped into Book/Music/Lyricist Toby Marlow’s mind in 2016 while in his last year at Cambridge University. For finals in a poetry class, he was doing research along with his bestie, Lucy Moss, Co-Book/Music/Lyricist. Marlow watched Lucy Worsley’s documentary, SIX WIVES. Later, they both watched Queen B (Beyoncé) in her 2011 concert, Live at Roseland Elements at 4. From this framework and a plethora of references to today’s strong, powerful female singers in the worlds of pop, rock, soul, and rap, their creation began to take form. It made its world debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017, where it played to sold-out houses and solid critical praise. SIX opened at the West End in January 2019, but in March 2020 it was shut down due to the pandemic.
Nonetheless, thanks to the remarkable success at the West End, the musical came across the sea, but not to Broadway. Instead, it went on a North American Tour in 2019 in Chicago, then Canada and Minnesota. Finally, the next stop was Broadway!
In February 2020 SIX finally arrived on the Great White Way calling the Lena Horne Theatre home as they began previews, and that’s when COVID slithered into NYC, and the world changed. NOTE: Back in 2020 the theater was still called the Brooks Atkinson. In November 2022 it was renamed the Lena Horne Theatre.
Fast forward to May 2021 and SIX went back into the Lena Horne Theatre and revived their preview run once again. On October 3, 2021, SIX The Musical officially opened on Broadway, becoming the FIRST ORIGINAL musical to open since the pandemic crippled theaters to shut down. At the 2022 Tony Awards, SIX received eight nominations, including Best Musical. It took home two wins (Best Original Score and Best Costume Design in a Musical). But once again SIX made theater history, this time on live TV. One of the six leading ladies tested positive for COVID twelve hours before airtime, so their dance captain/ swing had to immediately go on that very night on live TV with extraordinarily little rehearsal!
Dallas now has royalty in the house as six Queens have graced us with a royal visit at the Winspear Opera house to once and for all squash those rumors, lies, and gossip about themselves in a command concert performance!
The central plot centers around these six Queens touring the world speaking the truth about their marriage to “him”, but to get the truth out about themselves, their life, and their death. However, they don’t have a lead singer, the Beyoncé / Diana Ross position per se. So, they have decided to turn the evening into a competition! Each Queen will present their case in song to the audience, and we get to vote who earns the title of leading Diva of the Six, er Five? Six? You get the picture.
I’ve seen (and performed) in so many musicals in my life. As a professional theater critic and in my many years as an audience member, I have reviewed and seen a kazillion new musicals. We are talking out-of-town tryouts, regional/world premieres, Broadway, National Tours, outside of Texas, Regional, and all over the DFW metroplex. I have suffered through some disastrous clunkers, but also saw some that became massive hits and critically acclaimed masterpieces that changed the creation of musical theater.
SIX is the perfect example of why the theater gods invented the art of musical theatre. From the first techno-thumping, drum-beating beat to the last chord, I was hypnotized, enthralled, and intensely moved. I was cheering, screaming, wiping tears in one number, and laughing my face off throughout the entire production. It is so potent, irresistible, unforgettable, and so refreshing in the conception of constructing an original musical that it will stick to your heart for days.
So what makes SIX so sui generis? Well, you have one set, a four-piece band, six performers, all original material, no intermission, and you have to entertain and generate honest emotions from the audience. That’s all. WHAT!? Are you insane? Oh ye of little faith, trust me, they deliver like Domino’s!
Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss constructed a smart, hysterical, and enthralling book that is so remarkably original, a rare feat in today’s era of the jukebox/turn a movie into a musical genre. They give each royal lady her own stage time to glow in the spotlight in book and song, with shimmering brilliance. These two have encyclopedia minds of English history and pop culture references that they engulf into their book, and especially into their lyrics. Those lyrics will have you howling in laughter ALL night long! These lyrics are bloody brilliant! Encasing these two elements is an infectious, exhilarating, spectacular score that has you bopping and swaying your head and body in your seat from beginning to end. SIX has one of the BEST original scores that I have heard composed for the stage. There is glorious, delicious pop, wicked rap, and even a soaring show-stopping power ballad. In today’s gluttony of jukebox musicals and creaking old war horse revivals, what a rare treasure to discover this glittery bejeweled box of a musical that has encased an actual original score that does not come from a recording artist’s catalog or a movie musical score. Six has its own. To really experience this majestic score is to hear it LIVE on stage, sung by these six mega-talented women. You will hear why this musical score won the Tony Award for Best Original Score.
One final, but so vital critique about the book, lyrics, and music. Somewhere within the piece-I won’t spoil it for you when something raw, real, and honest happens, it starts with a huge laugh sequence, but it segues into truth. Keep in mind that this musical was written in 2016 and far away from America. Way before the current climate of the struggles and battles women are fighting in today’s landscape on so many battlegrounds. Before you shut your “brain doors” and say in a huff, “I don’t want to see some political show!” It is NOT that whatsoever. What it does say is how strong and powerful it is when women don’t go against each other. But instead unite, honor, salute, applaud, help, support, love, and care for each other. To display and share to the world that women are so strong, independent, and have their own voice. They don’t need to stand behind a king’s shadow to be remembered. They can be remembered as themselves and THEIR achievements. It is honestly such a poignant moment in the musical because you do think of the women in your life. Mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, daughters, best friends. It is a remarkable moment that seeps out of the material and from the beautiful, touching chemistry between the actresses. Reality and theater crisscross and ebbs into the audience for one massive, unified moment. The magic of live theater.
The eye-popping, resplendent choreography has been created by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. Thanks to my wonderful seat advantage, I had such an excellent view of how intricate her dance sequences are and how smashing each Queen executed them with flawless results, and ALWAYS in unison. There was voguing, jazz, pop, hip-hop, and contemporary all meshed into her works. The staging of each number was visually so impressive and thrilling to observe. The traffic patterns to get from point A to point B, Ingrouille actually added more hand/arm choreography for some extra razzle-dazzle. Most of the time you see dancers who quickly move to point A or B and then begin the next set of counts. Not here. They are given face and hand-ography to get to that point for the next 16 counts. The Queen Bee or JLo might be in the audience with a hidden camera stealing these incredible dance confections created by Ingrouille for their next tour!
The ladies in waiting is the title bestowed to the four-piece all-female band. There are only four, but damn, they sound like a 15-piece rockin orchestra! These insanely talented women are conducted by Katie Coleman, who does a flawless job. She not only musical directs her immaculate band, but she is also on keyboards. Raising the roof with their slick musicianship are: Sterlyn Termine strumming gold on bass, and Liz Faure setting on fire her guitars with her slick, blazing licks. Finally, we have the fierce goddess on the drums, Caroline Moore. There are several numbers where she has some wild, frenzy, drum solos that made the audience go wild! These four women were the iron steel backbone that made SIX such a smashing evening. You ladies kicked ass!
A standing ovation must be bestowed on Sound Designer Paul Gatehouse. There was never a moment, NOT ONCE, that the rockin’ band overpowered the vocals, he blended the sound between them as smooth as silk. To be able to balance techno dance pop, exciting drums and percussion, and we can STILL hear every lyric clear as a bell-now THAT is a master at his craft. There are also some great sound effects that were used at very precise moments, and those were never late. There were no mic pops, no ugly feedback, and no wheezing from an instrument. The handheld mics that the Queens held did not get “hot” midway through an actress’s line or way late. Kudos to whoever thought of adding the bejeweled crystals to their handheld mics in their appointed color theme! The sound design was pure ear-candy finesse all evening long thanks to Gatehouse’s brilliance.
Emma Bailey’s scenic design is a slick, pristine multi-tier touring rock stage, the band is placed on opposite sides of its top tiers. I was relieved to see that there were no video projections used. It was a nice break to see a national tour not using those. The set is then bathed in Tim Deiling’s lighting.
Here is where we have a huge Mic drop moment! I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw this kind of extravagant, luminous, epic lighting design for a musical such as this! Tim Deiling has created and used an insane plethora of colors poured all over that set and stage. It is a visual feast of colors that look as though Deiling melted jolly ranchers, skittles, and gummy bears to create such bold, vivid colors that bathed the stage. For the back of the set, he has designed and connected LED panels. All evening long these panels lit up in an assortment of symbols, patterns, and designs. in a dizzying array of colors. Deiling made sure his kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors of light had a purpose, focus, and emotional value to the music, lyrics, and book. He achieved that with stellar success. There are so many examples of this throughout the production that you MUST see for yourself. I can promise you this- NO local theater company will be able to duplicate this lighting design. Period. Thus, this is a MAJOR reason to attend this national tour (one of the MANY reasons to go!).
Gabriella Slade’s costume designs are masterpieces of ravishing creativity and major haute couture. From my seat, I was able to see the intricately detailed work that went into each gorgeously colored costume. They are each designed from an amalgamation of the Elizabethan period, eye-popping rock/pop/soul stage concert goddess, Bob Mackie overdose sparkle, with a dash of RuPaul’s Drag Race fierceness. The fabrics look rich, textured, and exquisitely detailed. Some fabrics look like leather or battle armor that has studs and spikes hammered into them. Slade stated in interviews her influences included some of today’s top female powerhouses, and you actually do see it! For Catherine of Aragon, her costume is in hues of gold and black. She is Spanish and Catholic, the patterns on her breastplate and on the layers on her skirt are designed to resemble the stained-glass patterns in the windows of the Catholic Church. Slade also used Beyoncé's Gold goddess gown glory she wore when she performed at the 2018 Grammys. Queen B was costumed to resemble Oshun, the African Goddess of Love and Beauty. So, take a close look at Slade’s Catherine, and you will see the similarities. For Katherine Howard, she is in fuchsia, and Slade uses Ariana Grande during her “No Tears Left to Cry” period specifically to create Howard’s costume. From the cutouts within the costume down to her long fuchsia ponytail. For Catherine Parr, it is Alicia Keys. Parr is the only Queen in leggings. If you look closely all the queens are wearing earrings, they are designed as the roman numerals in which the order they married Henry. All their shoes/boots and costumes are covered in crystals, rhinestones, and sequins. Their footwear has their heels slathered in crystals in their designated colors. One costume is even trimmed in luxurious fur. Take a closer look at two of the Queens, the two who lost their heads. They are the only two wearing chokers. She also added this tiny hoop to their belts (bejeweled and stoned) where they can attach their handheld mics in a flash in order to free up both hands to do the choreography These costumes display the very reason why Slade won the Tony Award for Best Original Costume Design for a Musical.
All six women who portray our royal Queens deliver remarkable, consummate, unparalleled performances. From the second the main dark purple curtain splits open to the final bow, their electrifying, prodigious energy fills up the Winspear Opera House with such explosive results that I think I heard the reunion tower ball from blocks away explode and pop off its tall base! At Wednesday night’s performance, the audience went BALLISTIC the second the Queens appeared. The chemistry between all six of them was splendid to view. Be it during the book scenes or musical numbers, they played off each other with organic honesty and total commitment. But I also noticed that you could truly see on their faces how much fun they were having with each other and with the audience. They did not display “tour burnout”, which can happen with some national tours. I would glance to see how they reacted upstage during a solo or when the focus wasn’t on them, and they were all focused on the moment or supporting each other. You saw unbreakable sisterhood and solid subtext that circulated through each other throughout the production. Their diction was so crisp, crystal clear, and concise. Both when they sang and in their dialogue. No mush-mouth mumbling here. That is why every joke, one-liner, ad-lib, dramatic line, etc. landed because we could distinctly understand them. Thank you, ladies. Diction seems to get lost on some tours. Now add those vocal harmonies. Many of the musical numbers they sing have layers of tight vocal-and I mean TIGHT harmonies, which had the audience screaming in approval! Just lush, glorious, multi-octave harmonies that would either crescendo or fall into softness, never once going off key. I mean come on! That was another level of vocal fierceness within these incredibly talented women. Each Queen has her own number to present to the audience for their vote:
The bewitching and beautiful Cecilia Snow (CATHERINE OF ARAGON) is encased in golds and blacks sings the scorching pop, hot percussion layered number “No Way” that Ms. Snow’s gorgeous vocals soar like a strong Lioness within the song, She also adds some fantastic vocal riffs that have the audience roaring back their approval! Snow also possesses outstanding comedic timing, pace, and delivery that are displayed all evening long. Her facial expressions were side-splitting hilarious!
Zan Berube (ANNE BOLEYN) is dressed in shades of greens and happens to be the one that is the most famous (as the girls point out). Her inspiration comes from Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne. But she reminded me of Baby Spice, Avril, and a hint of Regina George. Berube turns out to be the scene stealer, but she can’t help it, she’s got some of the best one-liners within the book. Her facial expressions and body gestures only add more to her hysterical performance. She gives it her all in the Katy Perry-flavored pop number, "The One You've Been Waiting For" which was full of delicious, fierce shade to some of the Queens, but oh so hilarious! Ms. Berube shuts down the library for sure with her shade!
Amina Faye (JANE SEYMOUR) is costumed in blacks with iridescent crystals and rhinestones all over it. Her breastplate is white and glossy. Faye has my personal favorite number from the score, “Heart of Stone.” It is a breathtaking ballad that Faye has to not only go into different octaves but belt to the back of the house and then emotionally feel and deliver some major vocal riffs. She accomplishes all of this with astounding success. It is a heart-gripping number, and the lighting design that is created for it just adds so much to the emotion of the music and lyrics, and especially to her splendid performance. Faye has a set of sensational vocal pipes that just wraps around this ballad and creates one of those magical musical theater moments that you desire to see so badly when you see a musical. She achieves that with blinding success.
Terica Marie (ANNA OF CLEVES) has a costume of sexy hot pants, fur, showered in crystals and rhinestones, and thigh-high boots. Her costume and inspiration are Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. Ms. Marie has the song titled, “Get Down.” Do we need to say more? This number, performed by Marie, you HAVE GOT to see live on stage. She sells the HELL out of this number, and the audience ate…it….up!!! This incredibly talented woman just radiated animalistic heat and sensuality, layered in solid comedy. She was just so hysterically uproarious, but so sexy as well. Just another splendid number and performance within this production!
Aline Mayagoitia (KATHERINE HOWARD), is in fuchsia, has loads of rhinestones, and has a long fuchsia ponytail. She is after all inspired by Ariana Grande and Britney Spears. Mayagoitia is tall, sexy, and gorgeous, and she tells the other Queens and the audience that as well! She delivers an exalted, alluring performance with her smashing pop number, "All You Wanna Do", but pay attention to the lyrics as the song progresses. I’ll leave it at that. She is remarkable!
Sydney Parra (CATHERINE PARR) is in iridescent blues, leggings, and big puffy sleeves. Her up-tempo number titled “I Don’t Need Your Love,” fits wonderfully with her inspiration, Alicia Keys. She has an exquisite soprano voice that hooks onto the music like caramel on ice cream. She has some soothing, grand vocal riffs within the song that fit like a glove as well. Parra delivers a first-rate, stand-out performance within this compelling cast.
Here is why I compel you to attend this national tour of SIX: Just like other cult smash hits like this one, it will be done by so many theaters once the rights get released. But I have to state that in complete honesty I cannot see any theater company willing to pour the majority of their entire season’s budget to recreate the kind of spectacular lighting and heavily rhinestone and beaded costume design that makes this musical so epic and grand on this scale. These two elements are a major factor on what makes SIX so phenomenal. Now add that out-of-this-world, finely detailed choreography. And the list goes on. Thus, see SIX in all its bejeweled and original visual glory. I listened today while writing this review to the two recordings of SIX that are available, and I have to be honest, I actually prefer the six leading ladies I heard Wednesday night to what is on the recordings. They are THAT damn good! EVEN better!
Then there is this: I cannot remember the last time I sat in an audience here in Dallas where ALL-and I mean ALL evening long they (and myself) went crazy with thunderous applause, cheers, whistles, and screams after and even DURING one musical number after another. I really cannot remember the last time I saw an audience react this way! It was INSANE! That’s how mesmerizing each of these Queens bring out from the material from this musical. You HAVE to see these six dynamic women with their boundless energy, and blinding stage presence each of them are sheathed in.
A ticket to this show is the perfect gift for the holiday season! Or for your Secret Santa or stocking stuffer for that relative that loves theater! Or to take someone for date night instead of the same ole out to dinner and a movie routine. An evening attending SIX The musical is the BEST gift for someone’s birthday or Anniversary. It also would make a great night out as part of a Bachelorette Party! Talk about a hilarious theme before she ties the knot!
Finally, if you want to escape the sea of the usual annual holiday stage fare that is presented year after year, SIX The Musical is the foolproof detour to see an astonishing, sparkling new, yet so distinctive musical unfolds before your very eyes. You will sorely regret it if you miss SIX at the Winspear Opera House.
Hurry! You have six Queens ready to tell you their stories. And oh, do they have a story!
Performing at AT&T Performing Arts Center, Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
The production runs thru December 25th!
For TICKETS: https://www.attpac.org/on-sale/2022/six/
Box Office: 214.880.0202
COVID PROTOCOL: https://www.attpac.org/your-visit/faqs/public-health/
Other Ticket info and questions: https://www.attpac.org/your-visit/ticket-information/