Concert Reviews

Theater Review: SIX The Musical

Divorced, Beheaded, LIVE!

SIX The Musical is all the buzz in the Cleveland theater scene at the moment. Riding the coattails of Hamilton, writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss follow trailblazer Lin-Manuel Miranda in bringing history to life on a Broadway stage.

Six breaks from the traditional musical theater mold. For starters, no intermission! (YAY! Well…except for those who need a bathroom break!) The show runs only 80 minutes, much shorter than a typical Broadway production. Most importantly, SIX has much more of a pop or rock concert vibe than any Broadway production this reviewer has ever seen.

The storyline follows the six wives of the indecisive King of England, Henry VIII, as they compete through song about which of them had it the worst. It’s a tough call when the choices are (in historical order) “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.” Fun fact: It’s probably option two or five (sorry for the beheading bias), but while exiting the theater, groups of patrons could be overhead arguing which queen suffered the most. It’s up to each theatergoer to decide!

At 7:24 pm, a warning came over the PA system announcing that the show would begin in SIX minutes. (CLEVER!)

The six queens welcome Clevelanders to the show, addressing the city by name in typical rockstar fashion. During the opening number, “Ex-Wives” has an odd yet unmistakable undertone of the Christmas hymn “What Child Is This?”, the queens begin by announcing their fate at the hands of Henry VIII. Out of the gate, it is VERY evident that the show has no lead, but a cast of six equally powerful female performers backed onstage by a live all-female band. This is woman power at its finest. ,

Each of The Queens has her own song to win over the audience and share why their marriage to Henry VIII was the most insufferable experience. Each of the Queens is backed up by the aforementioned onstage band, dubbed Ladies in Waiting, comprised of Lena Gabrielle (Keyboards), Sterlyn Termine (Bass), Liz Faure (Guitar), and Caroline Moore (Drums). While remaining in the background, these ladies are very much as important to the performance as the queens.

Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon (center) in The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus
Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon (center) in The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus

First up, the OG wife, Catherine of Aragon (Gerianne Pérez) sings “No Way,” to kick off the battle of the queens. She is the first to take center stage and the audience immediately is wowed by the costumes that Gabriella Slade designed. Each of the different wives has their very own outfit and color and all of the costumes compliment the respective performer’s persona.

Next up was Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube), the first of the two wives that were beheaded! Her solo appropriately titled, “Don’t Lose Ur Head,” had a fun Brittany Spears/Lily Allen vibe. Berube pulls off the perfect lovechild of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus who ran off to become the sixth member of Spice Girls.


Zan Berube as Anne Boleyn (center) in The North American Tour Boleyn Company of SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus

Each of the wives is stylized after a different modern pop artist. Katherine Howard (Aline Mayagotia) is a blend of a Britney Spears and Ariana Grande type. While Jane Seymour (Amina Faye) is modeled after the likes of Adele and Sia. For the duration of the show, the queens continue with the competition.

While each performer had her own song, the remaining five ladies would sing backup to whoever was stealing the show for the moment, often chiming in with well-timed quips. The humor and wit are consistently entertaining. Expletives were cleverly ‘bleeped’ in a manner that made the audience chuckle. The fast-paced nature of most of the songs means that repeat customers will pick up something new each time when attend a performance. Modern-day references including dating profile pics brought some modernizations to this centuries-old tale.

Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage the popularity of this show is impressive and well-deserved. SIX premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017 with a cast of students from Cambridge University. The musical gained traction before COVID stopped Broadway in its tracks. What’s more impressive is that the forced hiatus didn’t stop the momentum for SIX!

It should be known that “nothing is for sure, nothing is for certain.” Practically all stories with a historical basis take some artistic license, SIX does so more than most. And, that’s OK! It makes the show more entertaining!

as much as we might want to believe everything performed is true, this is a parody. While how each of these women died is accurate, the details of their history have been lost. These very real people were always second (third … sixth) to Henry VIII. His story is what made it into the books and is preserved throughout history. Something that this performance makes importantly clear. It is this fact that makes these Queens’ stories all the more important.

SIX The Musical is part of the KeyBank Broadway Series and runs at Connor Palace through Sunday, September 10, 2023. Tickets for the run can be purchased on or by calling 216-241-6000.  

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