Six at Chichester Festival Theatre REVIEW: 'New pop royalty has been crowned'

It sounds like the trashiest concept known to man: turning the six wives of Henry VIII into a girl band and writing a musical about them, framed as a pop concert.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 9:46 am
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:10 am
The cast of Six. Picture by Johan Persson

But from the opening number Ex-Wives - aka the Cell Block Tango and Greensleeves remixed by Lady Gaga – these six starlets sank their talented talons in and wouldn’t let go for 90 minutes of silly yet thought-provoking fun.

For a show all about female empowerment, it seems against its spirit to rank the queens, who each had their own song – but it would not be much of a review if I didn’t.

So in at number one was Lauren Drew, who channelled her inner Beyoncé to nail the feistiness of Catherine of Aragon. She almost blew the roof off the theatre with her high notes and vocal runs in No Way that would make Christina Aguilera quake in her thigh-high boots.

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But a close second was Shekinah McFarlane as Anne of Cleves, who squeezed every drop of humour out of her facially-challenged character and kept catching my attention, even when she was singing backup.

I wasn’t sure how the usual Chichester crowd would take this youth-centric musical with its text speak and dating app metaphors, so my toes curled when Anne Boleyn used her microphone to simulate a certain sex act.

But I had no reason to.

By the end the vast majority of the audience, from 15 to 85, were on their feet clapping along to the encore, having given a rapturous reception to the cast.

Six had definitely drawn in a younger crowd – the golden ticket for theatres nowadays – and I for one won’t be getting its infectious tunes out of my head for at least a week.

If I had to be really critical, the format was a fraction repetitive, and Jane Seymour’s over-earnest ballad was slightly jarring sandwiched between the other high-energy numbers.

But judging by the fact that the entire Chichester run has sold out, it looks like some new pop royalty has been crowned. Long live the queens.

Until Sunday.