It’s a week of spectacular colour and pageantry in Oxford’s theatreland this week as SIX the musical returns to Oxford.
While Priscilla Queen of the Desert twirls and twerks at the New Theatre, Henry VIII’s six wives are providing their own version of Tudor sass at Oxford Playhouse and have virtually sold out, with good reason, because it’s as fabulously inspiring and entertaining as ever.
Opening night was an emotional occasion, the audience on our feet in our entirety by the end, tears being dashed from eyes, the overwhelming joy of finally being able to witness such a fantastic, hard-hitting, foot-tappingly good and empowering evening, getting to the best of us.
The cast and musicians had to leave the stage eventually, the audience continuing to lavish applause on them long after they’d eventually departed after many encores. So yes a night to remember that will be played out again and again until SIX finally departs Oxford for good on Sunday Sept 5.
For those who haven’t seen it; beg, borrow or steal a ticket (there are a few single seats left actually) or put yourselves on the waiting list because this royal sextet rocked the house.
And if the premise sounds naff – Henry VIII’s wives competing to see whose life was more miserable – then you’re underestimating both the dynamism of the show, the inherent feminist message behind it, its uber contemporary take on the Tudors and the sheer talent oozing out of every pour of his lauded wives.
Suffice to say that Henry doesn’t get a look in, and as their stories unfold through some truly catchy, current individual songs, we begin to rethink their stories, and his.
Enormous praise needs to go to the stellar cast: Lauren Drew as Catherine of Aragan who whips us into shape as soon as she sings that first exquisite note, Maddison Bulleyment whose Anne Boleyn rewrites the history books, Caitlin Tipping as Jane Seymour whose diffidence does nothing to hide her soaring tones, the unashamed delight of Shekinah McFarlane’s Anna of Cleves, the seemingly promiscuous Katherine Howard played by Vicki Manser and Elena Gyasi who owned the part of Catherine Parr with a zeal unfettered by the fact this was her first musical.
The constant and upbeat dance routines, historical retelling and impressive vocal repertoires kept us entranced until the dying notes, accompanied by the supreme musicality of the aptly named band The Ladies In Waiting.
Spellbinding, and refreshingly swift (80 minutes without an interval), SIX therefore appeals to a hugely broad audience, many of its teenage fans well versed in all the tunes long before they step into the Oxford Playhouse.
So if you can, go see it, and if you can’t, put it on your #mustsee bucket list of shows.
SIX is at Oxford Playhouse until Sunday September 5. Go to https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/six for tickets and more information