Everything you need to know about 'Six' on Broadway
From a tiny college production to a worldwide phenomenon that spawned its own legion of fans, here’s your ultimate guide to Six the musical in New York.
Welcome to the show, to the histo-remix! The musical Six has taken audiences by storm, with productions on Broadway, in the West End, and around the world. This pop musical about the six wives of Henry VIII has gone from a college project to an international sensation.
When 20something college students Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote the Six musical, they didn’t think it would be a bona fide phenomenon; they just thought it would be a fun school project while they were studying at Cambridge University. Six is a fresh musical, with a decidedly Gen Z sensibility: colorful yet unabashedly opinionated about feminism and patriarchy.
Six is about the six wives of Henry VIII, but it is not your typical history lesson. The women are all members of a girl group, and they are competing against each other to be the new leader of the group. Through catchy pop songs and synchronized dance movies, each woman tells her own story. It’s part 10th grade history class, part American Idol, and a whole lot of fun (with killer vocal riffs).
It may seem like a crazy concept, but Six has a deeper message about how history is always written by, and about, men. And what we all need right now is a big dose of “herstory.” Find out more about Six below, with characters, running time, songs, and more.
What is Six about?
Listen up, let them tell you a story! Most people, if they’ve heard of King Henry VIII, know two things: He was the father of Queen Elizabeth I, and he had six wives. But who were these women, and how did they feel about being one in the long line of spouses for an unrelentingly picky man?
The six wives of Henry VIII are Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Six tells each of their stories in a very atypical fashion: the wives have all come together as part of a pop girl group, and they each sing a song about who has suffered the most as Henry’s wife. The winner will be the new leader of the group.
Petty squabbles and shade abound, but the women eventually learn they need to come together if they want to be more than the wives of one very flawed man.
Where is Six playing?
Six is currently running on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre at 256 West 47th Street, between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. The Brooks Atkinson Theatre opened in 1926 as the Mansfield Theatre. It was named the Brooks Atkinson in 1960 after the late New York Times critic of the same name. The previous tenant at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre was Waitress, which was the longest-running production at that theatre; it ran there for close to four years between 2016 and 2020.
How long is Six?
The running time of Six is 1 hour and 20 minutes. It is the shortest musical currently running on Broadway. So you can have an entertaining evening and have time to grab dinner afterwards to dish about what you’ve just seen.
What days is Six playing?
On Broadway, Six typically plays eight performances a week at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The shows typically run Monday to Sunday, with two performances on Saturdays and Sundays, and a day off on Wednesdays. For the complete performance schedule and showtimes, please visit the Six page to learn more.
When did Six premiere?
Six is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway, with continually sold-out shows. But its beginning was quite the Cinderella story: Six started off as a humble college production before catching the eyes (and ears) of the right theatre producers.
- 2016: The show begins as a college project by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, then students at Cambridge University.
- 2017: Six has its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s a student production starring many of Moss and Marlow’s college friends. The Edinburgh production catches the attention of producers Kenny Wax and Global Musicals, who give the musical its first professional production off West End in December 2017, for six performances. A cast album featuring the Off-West End cast was released shortly after.
- 2018: Six launches its first national tour in the UK with a mix of returning and new cast members.
- 2019: Six returns to London for an open-ended run, this time on the West End. It takes Six time to find a theatrical home on the West End. It started off at the Arts Theatre, then moved to the Lyric Theatre, then to the Vaudeville Theatre, where it runs to this day. That same year, Six launches its first North American tour, beginning in Chicago, before going to Boston; Edmonton, Canada; and St. Paul, Minnesota. The production also begins playing on Norwegian Cruise Lines.
- 2020: Six starts performances on Broadway, where it is currently running. This production features the actors in its first North American tour. Also in 2020, Six premieres in Australia and launches its first Australian tour, with a stop in New Zealand.
Who wrote Six?
Six is written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics together. This is their first major musical. They’ve since written another musical together with Zak Ghazi-Torbati, called Hot Gay Time Machine, about the important moments in a gay man’s life (Marlow and Ghazi-Torbati perform in the musical, and Moss directed). Hot Gay Time Machine has had short runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and at the Trafalgar Studios in the West End.
Their research for Six includes Antonia Fraser's biography The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the documentary series Six Wives by Lucy Worsley, and the Beyoncé concert film Live at Roseland: Elements of 4.
Six features all six wives of Henry VIII, but this is no period drama. Their personalities and songs are modeled after contemporary pop stars. Some of the lyrics even reference hit pop songs (such as when Anna of Cleves sings a line from Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”).
- Catherine of Aragon: The first wife of Henry VIII. She is religious but fierce, and she doesn’t take disrespect from anyone. She is modeled after Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez.
- Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s second wife, who he divorced Catherine of Aragon for. She seems like a ditzy airhead, but she is actually quite smart and savage. She is modeled after Lily Allen and Avril Lavigne.
- Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s third wife after he beheaded Anne Boleyn. She is sensitive and the only one of the wives who actually loves Henry VIII. Seymour is modeled after Adele and Sia.
- Anna of Cleves: Henry VIII’s fourth wife after Jane Seymour dies. She is confident and effortlessly cool, and is aware that out of all the wives, she probably came out the most ahead. (No pun intended.) She is modeled after Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.
- Katherine Howard: Henry VIII’s fifth wife after his marriage to Anna of Cleves is annulled. She puts on a disaffected air but beneath is a young woman deeply affected by a lifetime of being used by men. She is modeled after Britney Spears and Ariana Grande.
- Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s sixth wife after he beheads Katherine Howard. She is sensitive and smart,and aware that the notion of women competing against each other is actually pretty regressive. She is modeled after Alicia Keys and Emile Sandé.
The songs of Six are all pop inspired, drawing inspiration from a variety of female pop stars’ catalogs. That means the songs span a variety of different sounds. From the hip hop-inspired “Get Down” to the slow ballad “Heart of Stone” to the upbeat “Don’t Lose Ur Head,” there’s a song here for every type of queen.
- "Ex-Wives" – Company
- "No Way" – Catherine of Aragon
- "Don't Lose Ur Head" – Anne Boleyn
- "Heart of Stone" – Jane Seymour
- "Haus of Holbein" – Company
- "Get Down" – Anna of Cleves
- "All You Wanna Do" – Katherine Howard
- "I Don't Need Your Love" – Catherine Parr
- "Six" – Company
- "Megasix (Encore)" – Company
What awards has Six won?
Though Six has been popular with fans around the world and is selling out houses in both New York and London, its awards roster is slim thus far. That may change with the 2022 Tony Awards!
- Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards: This awards recognizes productions that have played in Chicago, which was one of the touring stops for the Six tour. Six received three Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Musical, Outstanding Ensemble of a Musical, and Outstanding Music Direction.
- Olivier Awards: Six was nominated for five Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Supporting Role to its Entire Cast, Outstanding Achievement in Music, Best Choreography, and Best Costume Design.
Major productions of Six
At this point, Six is basically a worldwide phenomenon with another production in the West End, as well as touring companies that are traveling through UK and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and across North America. Six is even available on the high seas, as Six is also performed on Norwegian Cruise Lines.
- Six in the West End: This is the first major production of Six. The show has hopped all around the West End, first starting out at the smallest theatre on the West End, the Arts Theatre. It then moved to the Lyric Theatre and now, Six is running at the Vaudeville Theatre. The same cast that played Six on the UK tour also played the roles on the West End.
- Six on Broadway: Taking a page from Six in the UK, the same cast that played the characters in Six’s first American tour eventually played the roles on Broadway. Six was supposed to open on Broadway on March 12, 2020. But that same day, Broadway shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Six would not run again until September 17, 2021, as the first new musical to play after the historic 18-month Broadway shutdown.
- Six in Australia: Six played at the famed Sydney Opera House in January 2020, which was supposed to be the start of its Australian and New Zealand tour leg. But the Covid-19 pandemic shut those plans down, and Six did not tour Australia until 2021 when the theatres down under reopened.
Fun facts about Six
If you love Six and want to be a part of the Queendom, here’s some facts you should know about Six.
- When Six premiered on Broadway in 2020, Lucy Moss became the youngest female Broadway director in history (Moss co-directs Six with Jamie Armitage). She was only 26 years old. The previous record holder was Elizabeth Swados, who directed Runaways in 1978 when she was 27 years old.
- Six co-writer Toby Marlow sang his own songs onstage in 2019, when he stepped in for the role of Katherine Parr on the West End after the principal Parr actress, Maiya Quansah-Breed, was on vacation and the two standbys were out sick. Talk about "the show must go on!"
- Despite being a newer Broadway musical, Six already has a legion of fans. Six fans call themselves the Queendom and regularly show up to Six performances wearing tiaras (and sometimes full replicas of the onstage costumes!) and carrying merch for their favorite queen.
- The Six West End cast recorded a cast album for the show, but there is one song missing. It’s called “Megasix,” a warp-speed mashup of every single song that was sung that evening, and it’s usually performed every night at the end of the show.
- Six wears its feminism on its green sleeves. Not only does the musical have an all-female cast, but the band playing the music on stage, called the Ladies in Waiting, is also entirely made up of women.
How to get Six tickets
If you love pop divas and want to learn a little something about British herstory, then Six is the show for you. Don your tiaras, grab your girl group, and go see Six on Broadway.