An abundance of Katherines; Six album offers fantastic take on history

Six, the cast album of the soon-to-be broadway musical of the same name, starts with the old rhyme  “Divorced. Beheaded. Died.” From there, it fills a gruesome history lesson with wordplay, catchy songs, and a new take on an old story. 

Written by British college students Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the musical will premiere on Broadway later this year. 

In Six, the six wives of King Henry VIII of England sing about their lives and deaths. While it may sound unusual, the theme of historical events set to modern music has been proven successful before. Think of the long running hit Hamilton, or Head Over Heels based upon the ancient poem “The Last Days of Arcadia.”

The fast-paced lyrics of Six are filled with historical quips and puns, taking a modern sound on somewhat dull facts. Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry the VIII, turns the drawn-out political saga that was her divorce into the impeccably rhymed song “No Way”. 

Most of the music is upbeat tunes with fast paced, informative lyrics. This, however, is offset by the ballad “Heart of Stone”, sung by Jane Seymour, Henry’s favorite wife. With a lack of tragedy to sing about, Seymour describes what made her love a very unloveable man. 

The most interesting part of the album is listening to each wives’ very different identities. Katherine Howard, Henry’s youngest wife, defies the long-held perceptions that she was airheaded and adulterous. Howard’s song “All You Wanna Do” describes the abuse and unjust treatment she endured from men like her teachers, who sexually abused her, and Henry, who ordered her beheading. 

The album ends with an incredibly optimistic group song “Six”, in which the wives declare that they won’t be clumped together anymore. The cast album provides an incredible and informative listening experience for history nerds and theater kids alike. 

The ex-wives may only be remembered because of their marriages, but they are far more than just six wives.

 

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