“WITH HENRY IT ISN’T EASY!”
It’s safe to say the “royal life” isn’t at all what six women imagined it would be in “SIX,” the new Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss musical theater concert extravaganza directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, and erupting nightly in The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s shimmering world-class venue on Navy Pier. Each of the women--former lovers and queens to Henry VIII–tells her personal story as a metaphor for our time in a sizzling, eye-popping, non-stop production that is equal parts smart, sassy and fun. Who knew that history could be so fascinating, right? Right.
If you are counting, the women on stage in “SIX” are really “10” —six performers and four musicians—who command every visual and aural aspect of the blistering tempo of this piece for 80 mesmerizing minutes. At the center of those “herstories” and their—mostly—untimely ends are: Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon/divorced); Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn/beheaded); Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour/died); Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves/divorced); Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard/beheaded); Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr/survived). It’s clear that “with Henry it isn’t easy!”
Set on an Emma Bailey step-tiered concert stage, decked out in radiant Gabriella Slade costumes, under the pulsating lighting of Tim Deiling and invigorated with the sonic sound display of Paul Gatehouse, the women of “SIX” upend the classic story of Henry’s conquests with their singular perspective: a view from the other side of history framed in the voice, rhythm, social substance and unity of our time.
Each woman’s unique and interconnected relationship with Henry and, at times, with each other, plays out in a thoroughly hip “Queenspiration.” If you are looking for anything resembling a quiet, introspective, emotional ballad—there is a doozy in the middle by Mueller, but it is far from quiet—you will need to adjust your expectations. The electrifying ensemble nature of the piece allows a show-stopper for every queen and turns everyone else into the most dynamic, all-star support group you could wish for, courtesy of musical director Roberta Duchak and choreographer Carrie-Anne Ingrouille.
“SIX’ is a jam-packed pop concert experience with an extraordinary cast and musicians—Julia Scade (assistant music director/conductor/keyboard), Kimi Hayes (guitars), Stacy McMichael (electric bass) and Sarah Allen (drums)—reimagining the lives of Henry’s “ex-wives,” their trials and tribulations, and pain and sorrow in one of the finest shows yet in “The Yard,” where virtually anything imaginable can happen.
No need to want for anything more. “Get down like it’s 1499!” See “SIX”!
CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
through June 30th
800 EAST GRAND AVENUE
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago