Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 18, 2023

Review: The Bushnell, "Six"

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through October 22, 2023
by Shera Cohen

So many superlatives can describe the musical "Six". For example, there's: energetic, enthusiastic, and exciting. Several more positive adjectives include vibrant and colorful, literally and figuratively. However, these accolades are balanced with some that are not necessarily praiseworthy: loud, sometimes inaudible, and confusing.

"Six" is a relatively new musical based on very old history of England's Henry VIII's six wives. One memorable and funny line, in essence, asks, Who was Henry IX's wife? Henry V? Henry VI, Henry VII? They don't know or care. Ah, but Henry VIII not only topped the head count of wives at six (although two lost their heads), history buffs in the audience at the Bushnell knew the who's who, when, where they were from, and most importantly, who succeeded whom. Indeed, it's fair to assume that most seated in the theatre were up on their history books, movies, and/or PBS Specials to be familiar with these true stories.

As a teen, I was taught, "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived." Therein lies the plot. Six actors, boisterous singers, and dynamite dancers represent the sextet. For better or for worse, only two of the women are set apart from the others. Common are non-stop boisterous voices, most as ensemble pieces, and effervescent dance numbers throughout the production.

Separate reviews on backstage points of "Six" could easily accompany this broad stroke review; i.e. the campy metallic costumes, flashing light show, and band to "beat the bands". I'm sure it's no coincidence that all musicians were female.

At no point does the audience see Henry, just the wives. Overheard at the musical's end were comments that "Six" is a feminist musical. Others used the description "inspirational". Perhaps? No steadfast stance is necessary. A take-away for me was wannabe-feminists crushed by actual history of some 500+ years ago. 

Two comments are important to the audience:
  • Assuredly, it's fun to boot 'n holler, sing-along, wave your arms, etc. Yet, think about courtesy to those seated nearby.
  • Try to give 5 or so minutes to read the 2-page bios on each queen. Included are facts and fun commentary. Catherine's interests: religion, sewing, dancing, a bit more religion. Jane's was obedience. Anna of Cleves' was staying alive.