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  • Writer's pictureArts Angle Vantage Journalist

Dazzling vocals, stage tricks, etc., can’t mask dreadful stories of king’s ex-wives, need to spotlight herstory

By Monica Tanner | Arts Angle Vantage Reporter

Mercy Academy, Class of 2025

What do the six wives of Henry VIII, a night at the theater, and club lights all have in common? Seemingly, nothing except for the Tony Award-winning musical “Six.” It is certainly the only show where Renaissance monarchs perform as pop princesses, nay, queens. With a synth-pop sound of a Hot 100 Hit, the musical effortlessly blends theater and modern pop, while still paying homage to its classical inspiration.

The queens took the stage and invited the audience to help decide who would be the leader of their newly formed band during the opening night of a six-day run at the Kentucky Center for the Arts as part of PNC Broadway in Louisville’s season. They competed for the title by performing individual songs that focus on the one thing they all share — their lousy ex-husband.

Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon in the North American Tour of “Six” (Boleyn Company). Photo by Joan Marcus. Courtesy PNC Broadway in Louisville.

As the queens went along (in chronological order), they told their life stories and explained the trials they faced as Henry’s wife. Catherine of Aragon (Gerianne Pérez) started strong as she performed a Beyoncé style belter about her refusal to step down from the throne. She was followed immediately by her rival, Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube), who took on the persona of a TikTok It-Girl, who “just wants to have some fun.” The show slowed down a bit as Jane Seymour (Amina Faye) sang a heart-wrenching ballad of her devotion.

The energy picked right back up with a flashy group number and more solos. Anna of Cleves (Terica Marie) got the audience moving with a song about her carefree life in Richmond. Kathrine Howard (Aryn Bohannon) brought a peppy beat, with a dark edge as she recounts the many times she was taken advantage of by powerful men as a child. Finally, Catherine Parr (Adriana Scalice) concluded the competition as she sang a letter to her lost love.

Each solo was enjoyable in its own way, but the truly heavenly moments came when the queens joined forces. With only three group numbers in the whole show, the angelic blend of voices was rare, which made it that much sweeter.

However, their personalities did not blend as harmoniously as their vocals. That made for endless witty banter and petty feuds. Watching them interact felt like watching your favorite episode of a trashy reality show. The rivalry between Catherine of Aragon (Pérez) and Anne Boleyn (Berube) was particularly hilarious, as they even resorted to one-upping each other by tallying miscarriages.

Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube) in the North American Tour of “Six” (Boleyn Company). Photo by Joan Marcus. Courtesy PNC Broadway in Louisville.

Despite their entertaining relationships, the most interesting dynamic was between the queens and the audience. Unlike a traditional show, the cast was fully aware of their spectators and addressed them directly throughout the performance. Anna of Cleves (Marie) was the queen with the most crowd chemistry. She played the audience into the palm of her hand before she even hit the first chorus. Her over-the-top energy and strong confidence came off in waves, which knocked the stillness right out of the crowd. At every moment, the crowd was going wild for her. Even two songs later, a simple one-liner earned her a gush of rousing applause.

The musical’s infectious energy went beyond the queens themselves. The laser-licious lighting (Tim Deiling) turned Whitney Hall into a nightclub fit for royalty. Pair this with the live band accompanying the queens on stage, and you’re left with a buzzing set unlike any other production.

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But under this musical’s fog machines, glitter, colors, and lights, lies an important question: Why is a man defining these women? Catherine Parr (Scalice) pulls this issue into the spotlight and ponders if boiling themselves down to a shared ex-husband was an injustice to their individual attributes.

The queens could leave you to process this revelation on your own. Instead, they provide an indulgent ending where each writes her own happy ending. As idealistic as the closing number was, when the lights came up and the adrenaline faded away, you’re left with the saddening realization that that’s all it was — idealistic. In real life, these women were hated, abused, and even killed.

“Six” forces you to think about how women are described in history and dig deeper into the stories that have passed through generations. Not only is “Six” revolutionizing musical theater, but it’s also refocusing on “herstory” one note at a time.

Monica Tanner (she/her), a junior at Mercy Academy, is active in Future Business Leaders of America serving as the treasurer in her region and as a chapter officer. She is an officer of her school’s environmental club, where she works to help make her community more eco-friendly. Her favorite subject is English, where she enjoys analyzing literature and experimenting with her writing.


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