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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Review: ‘Six’ is not your standard musical. It’s a 90-minute, flashy pop concert filled with queens.

Terica Marie as Anna of Cleves, center, performs as part of the North American tour of “Six.”  (Courtesy of Joan Marcus )
By Azaria Podplesky For The Spokesman-Review

“Welcome to the show/ To the historemix/ Switching up the flow/ As we add the prefix”

If the pre-show music, which included a Baroque-esque version of Camilla Cabello’s “Havana” didn’t help set the scene, these lyrics from opening number “Ex-Wives” quickly let audiences know that in “Six,” it’s all about the queens.

History may have them forever linked because of their marriages to King Henry VIII, but the women of “Six” – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr – were ready to set the record straight about who they were before, during and, if they were lucky, after their time with the king.

“Six,” which features a book, music and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, continues through Sunday at the First Interstate Center for the Arts.

The show opens with the queens telling audience members that whoever they decide had the worst time with King Henry VIII gets to lead the band, aka the Ladies in Waiting. The Ladies in Waiting are music director/keyboard player Jane Cardona, bassist Sterlyn Termine, guitarist Rose Laguana and drummer Kami Lujan.

From there, each performer sang a solo highlighting their time as queen. As the first to perform, Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon (the program lists her queenspirations as Beyoncé and Shakira) had a big responsibility in setting the stage for the evening. “Six” is not a standard musical, with a lot of dialogue and set changes. Instead, it’s a 90-minute pop concert with light effects and choreography from start to finish.

Pérez handled the responsibility with ease during “No Way.” She commanded the stage and had the audience with her from the first note – a queen through and through.

After being called out for pursuing the king while still married to Catherine, Zan Berube then took center stage to defend Anne Boleyn (Queenspirations: Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne, though I’d also add Cher Lloyd to the list).

Berube provided a lot of comic relief during the show, especially during her solo “Don’t Lose Ur Head,” in which she discusses Henry’s cheating and her decision to flirt with other guys to make him jealous, leading to her eventual beheading. She made Anne seem bratty, but not annoyingly so, all while nailing pop punk vocals and mannerisms.

Third up was Amina Faye as Jane Seymour (Queenspirations: Adele and Sia), who the other queens teased for having an easy time with the king. But in her solo number “Heart of Stone,” it’s made clear that Henry really only loved her as long as she produced a male heir.

“Heart of Stone” is a slower moment in the show, but Faye’s astonishing vocals ensured the audience didn’t lose interest. Faye’s solo number was my favorite performance of the night.

“Haus of Holbein” was a really fun group number that parodied dating apps as a way to introduce Terica Marie’s Anna of Cleves (Queenspirations: Nicki Minaj and Rihanna). Anna didn’t resemble her profile picture, however, so Henry annulled the marriage.

At first, Anna complains about her situation, but soon her solo song “Get Down” finds her celebrating having money, a palace and no man telling her what to do. Marie could not have been more fun to watch as she sang “Get down you dirty rascal/ ‘Cause I’m the queen of the castle.” Her energy and attitude were unmatched.

“The least relevant Catherine,” according to the other queens, Katherine Howard (Queenspirations: Ariana Grande and Britney Spears) took her time pointing out why she had it worse than the previous queens before launching into “All You Wanna Do.” The song initially celebrates all the attention Katherine received from male suitors, even while she was still a child, but it eventually devolves into an exposé of all the abuse she suffered because of those men.

Aline Mayagoitia did a wonderful job transitioning from bubbly and bright to heartbroken over the course of a single song.

It’s then that Catherine Parr (Queenspirations: Alicia Keys and Emeli Sandé) asks the other queens why they’re comparing trauma and competing with one another. She suggests ending the competition, but the others make her sing, so Adriana Scalice uses her gorgeous smoky, soulful voice to tell the audience about having to leave her true love Thomas and enter an arranged marriage with Henry.

But in “I Don’t Need Your Love,” Scalice celebrates all Parr did without Henry, including writing books and fighting for education for girls and women.

This inspires the other queens to take back their own stories and rewrite them as if Henry were never part of their lives. The show ends with a mashup of previously performed songs, now sung in celebration, complete with confetti.

The queens and Ladies in Waiting should be applauded for seamlessly switching from genre to genre throughout the show. The Ladies in Waiting made really fun choices to interact with the queens, and the queens themselves found the perfect balance between taking center stage and taking a supporting role so another performer could shine.

Because there was no opening scene or dialogue, Pérez, Berube, Faye, Marie, Mayagoitia and Scalice had to make the audience care about not only them as performers but the characters they were portraying from the moment they stepped on stage. No small feat, but the audience was behind the sextet from the first “What’s up, Spokane?” and stayed engaged for the rest of the show.

“Six” could have easily been a corny musical history lesson, but because of the passionate, energetic, talented cast, the evening felt like a true celebration of not only these six queens but every other woman in history who is more known for their relationship than their accomplishments. Queens lift each other up, after all.