Six The Musical
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Having long since turned to films as audience-drawing familiar source material, big-time theater here sets its sights on another pop cultural expression with a built-in (and notably young) audience: pop music. You're here to see a concert put on by the six wives of Henry VIII, the king who notably broke with Catholicism and created the Church of England just so he could be rid of Wife #1 and get Wife #2.
The fun of it is the assignation of Queenspirations: pop icons whose personas make them appropriate stand-ins for their historical counterparts. The wronged Catherine of Aragorn gets Beyonce's power and pride, flirty and doomed Anne Boleyn is repped by Lily Allen, sad Jane Seymour gets Adele, unsuitable Anna of Cleves is Nicki Minaj, sexy Katherine Howard is Ariana Grande, and heartbroken Catherine Parr is Alicia Keys. The high-energy imitations come off better than the slower, more soulful bits, when there's less to distract you from the fact that these are (admittedly high-quality) imitations. Or perhaps homages.
The performance is built as a contest, with each queen stepping forward to make her case as the most wronged. Cleves' "Haus of Holbein" is probably the best, while Howard's "All You Wanna Do" comes closest to actual drama. (Though throughout, Anne Boleyn nearly steals the show with her constant reminders of beheading.) The songs zip by, and it's all funny fun and games until the end, when the ladies of the club start to wonder about celebrity that comes from proximity to the patriarchy. But before the audience can start to feel bad about enjoying their tragic stories, they find a way to put an empowering spin on things so everyone can leave happy.
Speaking of leaving, this one closes July 9, so get your tickets quick.