“I’ve been waiting three years to see this one!” said my 16 year old niece. I was so curious as to how she even had heard of SIX THE MUSICAL given that it’s a relatively new musical. Not only had she heard of it, but she knew EVERY song. When I asked if she’d like to see it here in Toronto, there was no hesitation. She had seen some of the West End production of SIX THE MUSICAL online during the pandemic and thought the storyline was really interesting.

Wait, the story about the six wives of King Henry the VIII is appealing to a teenager? THAT storyline? I know, right? Yes, I quickly learned their stories have been reimagined for modern times and presented in a fresh, dope way. Think your most popular music sensations with blinged out corsets telling HERstory in a bold and engaging way. Oh, and a heck of a lot of fun, too!

Most of us have heard about the King’s wives including Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. Even if you don’t know much about them, the musical’s programme offers a quick summary about “The Six”. Read it even if you know. It’s a keeper.

In this approximately 80 minute show (no intermission) the audience is asked to decide who is the Queen of Queens. As each character steps up and gives her story through song, and like, in current lingo it’s easy to get why this musical is such a hit since 2017.

Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

The question of the night is “who had it worse?”

The cast of the Toronto Production of SIX. (L-R) Jaz Robinson, Julia Pulo, Maggie Lacasse, Lauren Mariasoosay (centre), Krystal Hernández and Elysia Cruz. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

As each powerhouse Queen took to the spotlight we learn how each of them met the King. We also discover what their relationship was like with him, and well, what finished them off. Under the bright concert-like stage lights, and an all all-female support band on stage (aka Ladies in Waiting), they sound off.

The range in music will sound familiar – a little bit of Gaga, Taylor, Beyonce, Sia, Adele, Ariana, Avril, and a ton of Spice Girls energy. It’s like girl power was bottled up, shook and unleashed in a very fun way.

And does it EVER look like fun! Each Queen has their own music genre but they are equally as strong in voice and character. Jaz Robinson (Aragon) takes a Beyoncé presence on  stage that commands instant attention. Julia Pulo (Anne Boleyn) plays up the flirty and vivacious character with a dose of mischievousness as she should. Maggie Lacasse (Jane Seymour) sweet and kind demure that is true as her character’s traits. Krystal Hernádez (Anna of Cleves) gave smart and strong characteristics and reminded us of Lady Gaga and in total control of her life. Don’t be fooled by Elysia Cruz (Katherine Howard) young looks, although that’s very much the role she plays, but her natural voice and smooth delivery makes everything seem so easy. Lauren Mariasoosay’s (Catherine Parr) incredible voice brings all the star power alongside her cast mates.

The cast of the Toronto Production of SIX. (L-R) Lauren Mariasoosay, Maggie Lacasse, Krystal Hernández (centre), Elysia Cruz, Julia Pulo and Jaz Robinson. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Galia Backal, who is the Resident Director for two of the SIX U.S. tours and now Toronto tells us she really wanted to bring empowerment to the stage.

“This is about six women in history with their history previously written by men and mainly white men,” said Backal. “What that means to now rewrite that history and take control of our history and band together as women is an incredible opportunity. This is such a great example of how women often pit women against each other. We always see Aragon and Boleyn as an example but if we look at actual history they were friends. They played cards together. They were more of a sister relationship. So that’s what we’re really trying to bring out. They are six women we can all identify with who are going through things and taking control of their lives.”

The message is clear. We all should be seen and heard. We should and can all empower each other. “We are Queens always adjusting each other crowns. Doesn’t matter if you’re male or female or female identifying, we all have those times when someone is challenging us and makes us feel small. I want the audience to walk away knowing that feeling empowered is actually a great thing,” said Backal.

The whole empowered vibe is important and can be felt at any age. “Yes, we’ve had a 5 year old that came to the stage door and we realized that even at such a young age she’s seeing how women can be strong and have their own voice. That will sit with us and her for a long time. But even grandmothers are seeing the show. My Abuela saw the show and got it. She saw all these women who were there for each other. And she loved it.”

The original writers and creators have made such a fun and witty script. There are lots of hidden eggs and not so hidden like the  “Tinder Scene” that is understood by many even those who are not on any dating apps.

When it comes to the choreography Backal tells us that  Carrie-Anne Ingrouille (choreographer) absolutely works with intention. Music direction and dance work together to tell once cohesive story. “We always say when you look from afar as an audience member it might all look so precise, seamless, and smooth. We barely see the intricacies. That’s because Carrie-Anne made this beautiful ensemble ambiance that supports the Queens. But it’s also difficult, exciting, and energetic to help keep move the story along.”

The cast of the Toronto Production of SIX. (L-R) Maggie Lacasse, Jaz Robinson, Elysia Cruz (centre), Lauren Mariasoosay, Krystal Hernández and Julia Pulo. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Casting is diverse and Backal tells us that was most exciting for her. “It’s my favourite part of this musical! I’m Mexican-American and for me it’s what attracted me to SIX. The idea that anyone can be on stage to tell these stories and anyone could be the six wives and queens is exciting. What they go through is what all of us could go through. It’s not specific to the one historical figure. Even though it’s based on the six women in Henry VIII’s life we’re not here necessarily to tell historically accurate stories. At the end of the day, we are more like the pop group just seeing which one is going to leave the band. It’s also a different and more inclusive way of approaching theatre.”

My niece and I had a blast and wished the musical was at least another 30 minutes longer. We truly didn’t want this one to end!

The international smash-hit musical SIX was written and composed by Tony Award®-winners Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. 

SIX won 23 awards in the 2021/2022 Broadway season, including the Tony Award® for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

SIX is currently playing at Broadway’s Lena Horne Theatre in New York, the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, on tour in the UK and across North America, and at the Coex Shinhan Card Artium in Seoul, South Korea.

The Canadian production of SIX THE MUSICAL is on stage now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. After an incredible opening night, Mirvish announced an extension of performances until February 11, 2024. Tickets to this new block of seats will go on sale at 10:00 am on Monday, October 2 at mirvish.com.