The Six Tell the 6ix About Henry VIII’s Wives

Reviewed by Mary Alderson

“Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.” That’s the simple story of the Six Wives of Henry the VIII, the story we’ve all heard. But did anyone ask those six wives about their side of the story?

Finally, their truth is being told, by the six themselves. Or at least it’s being told by the clever imaginings of Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. The writers were looking for a musical that gave women substantial leading roles. When they weren’t satisfied with what was out there, they wrote SIX. It offers six young women equal billing, and satisfying parts, both as singers and storytellers. The pair wrote it when they were students at Cambridge, and it was first performed at the University, before going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It caught on, and is appreciated for the strong roles representing six interesting women, with modern pop music creating the entertainment factor.

The six women get together at some point in time, perhaps after their deaths, to discuss who had the worst of the deal, being married to King Henry VIII. These are women who know power, so naturally they become very competitive.

The six are given loud and long entrance applause and they immediately remind us that we know them from the PBS TV series. (I do remember it, way back in 1970, but wasn’t it on CBC, thanks to the BBC?) The song “Ex-Wives” reiterates what’s been happening in their lives. Then each former queen tells her story through song.

The Programme, of course, tells the bios of each actor/singer/dancer in the show. But it also includes the bios of each of the Six Queens; their ages, years in power, interests, outcomes, etc. Interestingly, it also includes their musical “Queenspiration”. For example, the first of the six, Catherine of Aragon is inspired by Beyoncé and Shakira. The entire show is performed like a pop concert, each Queen with hand-held mics and calling out “Hello Toronto!”.

As Catharine of Aragon, Jaz Robinson gives an amazing performance. She sings “No Way” like a Beyoncé number, explaining that she became queen when Henry’s brother, her husband Arthur, dies. She gives birth to a daughter who is later Queen Mary I.

Julia Pulo gives us a cute, sassy and funny Anne Boleyn, singing “Don’t Lose Ur Head” in the style of Lilly Allen or Avril Lavigne. She repeatedly reminds us that she had her head chopped off.

Maggie Lacasse as Jane Seymour invokes the spirits of Adele or Sia with her beautiful and passionately sung ballad “Heart of Stone”. She regularly reminds the others that she died in childbirth, and left a son, Prince Edward, without his mother.

Krystal Hernandez is the unhappy Anna of Cleves. We learn that Henry chose her to be his next wife when he saw a painting of her by Holbein. Unfortunately, when he met her in person, he was not enthused. The entire cast sings a clever song “Haus of Holbein”, followed by Hernandez’s “Get Down” which she performs perfectly, inspired by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.

Katherine Howard is portrayed by Elysia Cruz, singing “All You Wanna Do” brilliantly like Ariana Grande or Britney Spears. She, too, is executed, but doesn’t complain about it as much as Anne Boleyn.

Finally, Lauren Mariasoosay is Catherine Parr, the only wife to survive Henry. She sings the powerful song “I Don’t Need Your Love”, inspired by Alicia Keys or Emeli Sandé. Mariasoosay has a powerful stage presence.

Costumes are cleverly created with plenty of modern glitz in the style of today’s female singers, but with a Tudor influence. Each woman’s costume is unique, so it’s easy to keep track of who’s who.

The music provided by the all-female, five-member band on stage is excellent. In keeping with the SIX story, they are called The Ladies in Waiting. They can play all the 1990s to 2010’s pop music perfectly, but every so often there’s a hint of harpsichord Tudor-style music.

A special thank you to the Mirvish organization for creating a Canadian SIX, and not just simply giving us the Broadway or West End tours. The cast consists of four Canadians and two brought from the U.S. Of the four Standbys, only one is from the US. These are young women just launching their careers and this is a great opportunity for them to further their experience. We need to keep building up our Canadian talent.

It’s a vocally demanding show, so it’s important that there are four standbys (swings? understudies? – whichever word you prefer). These four will be called upon to step into any of the six roles on short notice when voices become overworked or ankles twisted in the moves. Checking their bios in the program, I believe all four are well qualified to step in.

In the end, the six powerful queens realize that competition isn’t necessary and they are each strong in the own right. SIX is a feminist, girl-power show while very entertaining with robust music and many laughs.

Go see SIX, especially if you like their musical influencers. It’s a fascinating piece of history, good for your education. But there is also amazing singing. As they describe themselves, these six could be the “Tudor Von Trapps” or “The Royally Stones”. It’s one of those shows you could see again, and hear more information in the lyrics that you may have missed the first time. Polish up your tiara and wear it to the Royal Alexandra; we noticed a few in the audience!

SIX continues with eight shows a week at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., Toronto, Ontario until March 31. Call 1-800-461-3333 or visit  for tickets. SIX is 80 minutes long with no intermission.

Photo: The SIX Wives of Henry VIII in Toronto – Jane Seymour (Maggie Lacasse), Katherine Howard (Elysia Cruz), Jaz Robinson (Catherine of Aragon), Julia Pulo (Anne Boleyn), Krystal Hernandez (Anna of Cleves), Lauren Mariasoosay (Catherine Parr). Photo by Joan Marcus.

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage
Musical Supervision by Joe Beighton
Music Conductor Elizabeth Baird
Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Performed by Jaz Robinson, Julie Pulo, Maggie Lacasse, Krystal Hernandez,Elysia Cruz, Lauren Mariasoosay, Hailey Lewis, Julia McLellan, Abigail Sparrow, Darcy Stewart.
David Mirvish Production
Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., Toronto, Ontario
September 23, 2023 to March 31, 2024  Extended to May 26, 2024
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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