By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt.
Photos by Joan Marcus.
It’s a good bet you’ve never seen anything quite like SIX, billed as “a pop concert spectacle featuring the six ex-wives of Henry VIII.” A hit on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it has accumulated a heap of awards, including Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and Best Costume Design on Broadway, where it’s still a hot ticket. And now, thanks to Broadway San Diego, you can see it here, at the Civic Theatre, through July 9.
SIX started out as a musical written for the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival by two Cambridge University students, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. They came up with the idea of a 21st century female approach to Tudor history featuring Henry’s wives as a flashy girl group with Beyonce-inspired stylings and a wild sense of humor. The show moved on to London’s West End in 2019 and was set for a gala opening night on Broadway in 2020… on the day Covid shut all the theaters down. Nineteen months later, it finally had its grand opening, and has been on a global winning streak ever since.
In SIX, each of Henry’s ill-fated wives—“divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”—is given a chance to tell her life story her own way—in song, backed up by the other five wives. Each queen struts out in a one-of-a-kind, Tudor-inspired pop costume, and in fact, the costumes themselves have become inspirational, with many SIX-fans creating their own versions and sharing their photos online. And this is not an easy DIY project, since the Tudor-inspired fashions are made of unusual contemporary materials like Vacuum Form fabrics, foil and plastics that look great onstage but are tricky to work with and need tons of experimentation before they are ready to wear.
If you’d like to know more about the costumes and how they were researched, designed, and finally hand-made, here’s a link to a fascinating Zoom conversation with the Tony-winning costume designer, Gabriella Slade, her associate designer, and the Broadway costume-maker, including brief appearances and questions from a few at-home-costumiers wearing their own best designs.
After watching the half-hour video, you may be inspired to try a little cosplay yourself. Of course, costumes aren’t the only reason to see the SIX-travaganza, which promises 80 minutes of joyful, high-energy entertainment. It’s a “high demand event” and only in San Diego through July 9, so be sure to order your SIX tix asap at broadwaysd.com
Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at email@example.com