SIX The Musical Offering a Feminist Perspective on History

By Ashtyn Britt

abritt@lc.edu

 

I think it could be safely assumed I love musicals that teach me about history, seeing as Hamilton had been my favorite musical for the last few years. However, another historical musical has caught my heart, and I felt the need to share it with the world since it is so horribly underrated. I, of course, am talking about “SIX The Musical.” 

“SIX The Musical” follows the stories of the six ex-wives of King Henry VIII, except told specifically from each individual queen’s perspective in order to reclaim their stories. The women featured are Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr as the six members of a girl-group reminiscent of The Spice Girls or Fifth Harmony and giving a performance to the audience as if they were attending a concert rather than a musical. It is worth noting, very cleverly, that Henry VIII never actually makes an appearance and is only referenced throughout the entire show.

In order, the show begins with the song Ex-Wives where the queens all introduce themselves and the roles they played in Henry VIII’s life as well as explain to the audience that they are going to do a singing competition comparing whose life was the worst. Then they start off with Catherine of Aragon’s song, “No Way.” In the song, she explains that she spent over two decades with King Henry before he publicly humiliated her by divorcing her for his mistress, Anne Boleyn. 

In a smooth transition, it then goes to the infamous Anne Boleyn who sings in a very tongue-in-cheek manner “Don’t Lose Your Head” as she describes the circumstances of her relationship, marriage and eventual beheading by the king. 

After her, Jane Seymour sings a very heartfelt, melancholy song about the pain of dying during the birth of her son in “Unbreakable.” 

After her, Anne of Cleves’s story is told in two songs, “Haus of Holbein” and “Get Down”, as she sings about being chosen by her portrait and then being publicly rejected for not being attractive enough for Henry and then enjoying her singlehood with a castle and more gold than anyone could spend in a lifetime. 

After her, Katherine Howard sings the tragic song “All You Wanna Do” where she describes the manipulation and abuse she had faced at the hands of multiple men before her eventual beheading. 

Finally, Catherine Parr recounts her disgust of the entire competition and wishes to instead focus on who they were as people and not only on their experiences as Henry’s wives in “I Don’t Need Your Love”. 

They conclude the show with the song “Six” where they each rewrite their own stories to give themselves happy endings and find unity and solidarity within one another. 

I love this musical because of the message it gives and showing that women do not always have to be competing with one another. They make a point to share that everyone’s experiences and respective traumas as a result were all valid. Also, the amazing music and vocal harmonization definitely did not hurt anything. For any fans of girl groups or Hamilton, I highly recommend you give “SIX The Musical” a try! The entire soundtrack is available for free on YouTube.com.

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