Eleanor Howard



The number six has been in the news for a couple of reasons this week, but the one we’re all excited about is the announcement that hit show SIX will be the first musical to re-open in London’s West End since the corona-curtains came down on theatreland in March. 

Yes, the Tudor queens are back! Divorced, beheaded and, most importantly, live on stage from 14th November in a spectacular production that’s guaranteed to gladden the hearts of London’s theatre-starved audiences, who have survived the long months of lockdown on a smorgasbord of live streams and Spotify.

Fears that musicals might not return to the West End until rules on social distancing are relaxed have been allayed by the bold decision to bring this upbeat satirical production back in time for Christmas. A statement from the producers – Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes, and George Stiles – pledged to ‘help build audience confidence and bring back business to the local economy’. Theatre-lovers and industry insiders alike will be rooting for them to succeed.

There is no doubt that SIX: The Musical is the perfect antidote to our current despondency, with its irresistibly catchy dance-pop tunes and a cast of colourful characters, the six wives of King Henry VIII reincarnated in the instantly familiar guise of a sassy girl group. The simple plot sees each queen in turn sing of their mistreatment at the hands of the corpulent king, as they compete to be the band’s lead singer. The reimagined stories of these proto-feminist protagonists – brought to life by an ethnically diverse, all-female ensemble in an uplifting histo-remix – are witty, moving and highly entertaining. 

Written by two Cambridge students, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, SIX has become a viral hit (the studio album is the second most-streamed soundtrack worldwide, after global phenomenon Hamilton) and has been nominated for five Olivier awards – not bad for a musical that began as a student production at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe.
You can catch the limited run of SIX at its new home, Nimax’s Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, where the greater capacity allows for social distancing – along with other now-familiar measures to keep audiences safe including one-way systems, temperature checks and compulsory face-coverings. Meanwhile, the ability to order ice creams or G&Ts by a smartphone app for in-seat delivery will be a welcome addition to the theatre-going experience.

But it’s not just Londoners who will be able to enjoy the poptastic spectacle of the six all-singing, all-dancing queens: the touring production of SIX: The Musical opens at The Lowry in Salford for a six-week Christmas season from 27th November.

The producers acknowledge that SIX is unlikely to be profitable, but despite the reduced capacity and increased safety measures tickets remain at pre-lockdown prices (from £24.95), as a testament to their optimism and commitment to the future of UK theatre.
In these uncertain times, this is the good news story the theatre world has been waiting for. Here’s hoping this is one rule of SIX that we can all get behind.

Performances at Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7ES
Saturday 14 November 2020 – Sunday 31 January 2021
Tickets on sale Friday 18th September from www.nimaxtheatres.com

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