Welcome To The Show

"Six" is a British pop musical written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss while they were studying for their final exams at Cambridge University. It tells the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII, as they compete to decide who will lead the group based on how much they suffered while married to Henry.

Plot

The show opens with the six Queens performing an opening number in pop-concert, girl-group fashion introducing themselves. They also welcome the audience to the performance ("Ex-Wives"). They address the crowd through means of breaking the fourth wall and tell them that this show will feature a competition, and whoever had the "biggest load of B.S." to deal with from the man who married them, Henry VIII, will be the leader of the group ("Ex-Wives (Reprise)").

 

Catherine of Aragon starts off and recounts her marriage to Henry and later annulment, and almost being put into a nunnery when he began lusting after Anne Boleyn ("No Way"). When Aragon claims that she is the winner, the other Queens mention Anne and how she overlapped with Aragon during the former's marriage, resulting in said annulment ("Anne Boleyn (Interlude)"), and Anne recounts her time as Queen with Henry and her eventual execution ("Don't Lose Ur Head"). She then continues to argue that she deserves to win the competition due to her execution and further begins to sing a new solo 'about the moment [she] found out Catherine of Aragon had tragically died'. This attempted solo is interrupted by the other queens. Jane Seymour then announces it's her turn to recount what she put up with, but the other Queens mock her for not having as much to deal with as, in her words, she was "the only one he truly loved". Jane admits that while she may have been lucky for not having to suffer at his hand, she still stood by him throughout all his faults ("Heart of Stone").

The story then shifts as the Queens are suddenly turned into members of Hans Holbein's painting studio, talking about how they make the women he paints look beautiful for their portraits ("Haus of Holbein"). In a set-up parodying Tinder (or another similar dating site) they present three women: Christina of Denmark, Amalia of Cleves, and Anna of Cleves, Amalia's elder sister. When Henry "swipes right", so to speak, on Anna, they all assume he will marry Anna and that they will have a happy, long-lasting marriage ("Haus of Holbein (Playoff)"). Of course, their union is ultimately ill-fated as he rejects Anna, and she pretends to make a big deal about how she is then forced to live in a beautiful palace in Richmond as a result, though she's not really complaining ("Get Down"). After the Queens point out how Anna's life doesn't sound that difficult, Anna says "Oh, well, back to the palace".

 

As Katherine Howard is next to go, the Queens belittle her for being "the least relevant Catherine", but Katherine retaliates by mentioning flaws in the other Queens' reasons for winning, such as how Anne Boleyn wasn't the only beheaded wife and how Jane Seymour only died due to natural causes. She then recounts her life and the men who abused her, leading into her marriage to Henry as she breaks down, fully realizing the trauma she suffered with her relationships and how these "all-powerful men" led to her eventual beheading ("All You Wanna Do").

As the Queens continue to squabble about who should win the contest, a frustrated Catherine Parr puts a stop to it. Questioning the point of it all, she brings up the fact that they're remembered solely by their shared connection to Henry, not as individuals. When they refuse to listen, claiming she has no story to tell that involves Henry, Parr tells her story, and of the accomplishments she made independently of Henry ("I Don't Need Your Love"). The other Queens, realising that they've let themselves be defined by Henry for so long, stop the contest and declare that they don't need his love to feel validated as people ("I Don't Need Your Love (Remix)"). With only five minutes left in the show after the fact, they decide to use their remaining moments on stage to "rewrite" the stories they told and sing for themselves for a change, singing together as a group rather than as solo artists and writing their own happily ever after ("Six").

In all of the live performances of the show as of July 2018, the Queens perform an encore number that is not featured on the Original Cast Recording, which is a mashup of all the songs performed in the show (minus "Haus of Holbein") called "Megasix". In most productions the audience is encouraged by the Queens to film this portion of the performance – the exception is on all US engagements of Six after the Chicago premiere due to union rules.