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THEATER REVIEW: ‘SIX The Musical’ plays at Proctors Theatre through May 12

We admire the vigor and strength of the six women on stage, but we really can’t go much further in our appreciation because all we see and hear is their wildly enthusiastic performance of this second-rate material. It’s really too bad because it is obvious they are women of talent.

SIX The Musical

Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, N.Y.
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

“Divorced.” “Beheaded.” “Died.” “Divorced.” “Beheaded.” “Survived.”

The six wives of King Henry VIII were as different as they could be. Each had a distinct history, personality, relationship with their husband. Each one ultimately had a different final bow. What this musical does to them is turn them into the same woman time and again. They sing in unison, dance in unison, live in unison. They aren’t queens; they are icons, rock icons who perform tirelessly and dynamically, in a way that might have gotten them all beheaded if this representation of them had been their true natures. As history shows, they were not this much alike. That said, let’s take a closer look at “SIX The Musical.”

This is a big-budget show with only six performers on stage. Kristina Leopold plays Catherine of Aragon; Cassie Silva plays Anne Boleyn; Kelly Denice Taylor plays Jane Seymour; Danielle Mendoza plays Anne of Cleves; Alizé Cruz plays Katherine Howard; Adriana Scalice plays Catherine Parr; six women as six women. The only other people on stage are musicians: Kami Lujan on drums, Rose Laguana on guitar, Sterlyn Termine on bass, and Jame Cardona on keyboards and conducting. A cast of 10, and all women, is unusual for a Broadway musical. Each and every one of these women does extraordinary work in this show. The largeness of Proctors Theatre in Schenectady was filled with sound for 90 minutes.

These six women are dead, have been dead for centuries. They weren’t friends, and this semi-reunion affords them a chance to challenge each other’s supremacy in history, egged on by the cheers, applause, and instantaneous egging-on by the Proctors’ audience. While there is no real winner in this competition, I found myself quietly rooting for Anne of Cleves, whose song “Get Down” ultimately summed up the theme of all of the wives: “I’m the Queen of the castle. Get down you dirty rascal” (near rhyme). It is a long number. They are all long numbers, all nine of them. Just nine songs to fill a 90 minute show with only about two minutes of dialogue. These songs are filled with near rhymes, contemporary jargon, and pounding music that rarely varies. Only Catherine Parr gets a ballad, “I Don’t Need Your Love,” sung in a solo, downstage left. Scalice sang it beautifully, and it was a most welcome change before the pounding beat returned once again for the multiple finales.

I am an old-school-musical-theater guy. I like a show with a dramatic line with songs to illuminate the characters and the plot. This show isn’t one of those. Now, understand, I did enjoy this show. It was different on every level, but it was so powerfully performed in the choreography of Carrie-Anne Ingrouille and the very choreographic direction of co-author Lucy Moss and Jane Armitage that no one could avoid the enjoyment engendered by this show. It is a high-energy drive in an open car through the nighttime British countryside. It is fresh air rushing through your hair. It is a dynamo.

Along the way, we don’t learn much about these women, their histories, their relationships with Henry or anyone else. With lyrics that are hard to hear, we never understand the two decapitations in the story (Boleyn and Howard). We admire the vigor and strength of the six women on stage, but we really can’t go much further in our appreciation because all we see and hear is their wildly enthusiastic performance of this second-rate material. It’s really too bad because it is obvious they are women of talent.

The lighting by Tim Deling is rock-concert spectacular. The sparse costumes are out of the wild imagination of Gabriella Slade. The functional set was designed by Emma Bailey. The sound design by Paul Gatehouse includes hand-held microphones, looking like regal scepters. I admire all of the fine work done by the creators of this spectacle, but it is still slim theater that entertains us but never enthralls us—an audience pleaser but only a theatrical teaser (actual rhyme).

“SIX The Musical” plays at Proctors Theatre, 432 State Street, Schenectady, NY, through May 12. For tickets and information, visit Proctors’ website or call (518) 346-6204.

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