Six (c) Joan Marcus
Brooks Atkinson Theater (Broadway)
Premise: The eponymous “Six” are the six wives of Henry VIII, the British monarch who broke away from the Catholic Church and created the Church of England, just so he could annul his marriages. (OK, that’s a bit reductive, but the show doesn’t go much deeper.) The six wives, all in color-coordinated, steam-punk versions of 16th century British fashion, each get a turn to convince the audience to vote for her to be the most tragic wife in an afterlife reality competition show. “Henry’s Wives Race,” if you will. Built like a Spice Girl concert with high-energy pop anthems and “poor me” ballads in equal amounts, the wives try to reclaim history as a revised her-story.
My Take: The show was set to open the night all of Broadway closed because of the pandemic in March 2020. The audience seem primed to welcome these women back on stage, almost as if they were the Spice Girls themselves (as if). The performers are all skilled singers and dancers, and they also perform well as each other’s back-up singers. “Six” never gives us more than a few choice facts from each woman’s backstory. For a concert, that’s probably all we needed, but maybe just a little deeper dive could have given us a richer experience. I mean, did any of the wives ever meet each other? It could have been “The Real Housewives of Henry VIII” in more ambitious hands. Still, “Six” is spirited fun and the audience was ready to party. (However, during this cautious reopening of Broadway during a pandemic, do we really need to hear, “Are you having fun? I can’t hear you?” Even masked, the aerosols were flying in that theater.)
VIP: The Ladies in Waiting. No, not the understudies, but the back-up band, also made up of fierce females who definitely added to the rock concert ambiance. So, let’s hear it for conductor and keyboardist Julia Schade, Michelle Osbourne on bass, Kimi Haynes on guitar and Elena Bonomo on drums.