Songwriter's Corner|

SIX is a British musical comedy with music, book, and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. It is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII, presented in the form of a pop concert. In the show, each of the wives (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) take turns telling their story to determine who suffered the most from their common husband.

The musical was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017, where it was performed by students from Cambridge University. Six premiered on the West End in January 2019, and has since embarked on a UK tour. An Australian production opened at the Sydney Opera House in January 2020. It premiered on Broadway in March 2020 and, following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officially opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 3 October 2021. Two North American tours, dubbed the “Aragon” and “Boleyn” tours, began in 2022.

The six Queens introduce themselves performing at a pop concert, telling the audience the band’s lead singer will be the prize for whoever they determine had the worst experience at the hands of their common husband, Henry VIII (“Ex-Wives”). Catherine of Aragon tells how Henry wished to annul their marriage and place her in a nunnery when he began chasing after Anne Boleyn despite being loyal to him during their marriage (“No Way”). In turn, Anne talks about how Henry wanted her instead of Catherine, then complains of the infidelity Henry partook in, which led to Anne flirting with other men to make him jealous and ending up dead/beheaded, all while covering her trauma and feelings with jokes and silly faces (“Don’t Lose Ur Head”). Jane Seymour steps up to take her turn, but is ridiculed for having had an easy time with Henry. However, while admitting she may have been the only wife Henry truly loved, Jane claims that his love was conditional on her having produced a male heir, and that she stood by him despite his many faults (“Heart of Stone”).
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In late 2016, Toby Marlow was selected by the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society to create and write a new musical that would be presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. Marlow, who was in his final year at Cambridge University, created a concept for a musical that would involve re-telling the story of King Henry VIII’s ex-wives. He partnered with another student, Lucy Moss, who began working on a concept for the musical together.

As they began working on the musical, Marlow researched the ex-wives stories by reading Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, while Moss viewed a documentary series, Six Wives by Lucy Worsley. They also watched and drew inspiration from the 2011 Beyoncé concert and story-telling performance, Live at Roseland: Elements of 4. The foundation for the musical was written over the course of approximately 10 non-consecutive days.

In developing the characters, Marlow and Moss were inspired by several real-life pop stars who were used as a composite and musical inspiration for the characters. The six ex-wives and their corresponding pop star inspirations are:

● Catherine of Aragon: is modeled after a mixture of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Jennifer Hudson
● Anne Boleyn: includes elements of Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne, and Lily Allen
● Jane Seymour: is reminiscent of Adele, Sia, and Celine Dion.
● Anna of Cleves: includes elements of Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.
● Katherine Howard: is a blend of young, sexualized pop stars and includes elements of Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.
● Catherine Parr: inspired by Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé.
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[SIX is on tour. Sounds like a fun production you might want to see if it comes to Denver!]

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