Six Wives, Six Lives

By Ryan Abbasi

While King Henry VIII is infamously known and studied for separating England from the Catholic Church and his insatiable appetite for war, parties, and women, what effortlessly captivates historians and storytellers alike is his story with his six wives. Many may simply remember the fates of his six wives with the famous rhyme, “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” but the strong and powerful queen consorts deserve greater recognition and attention for their role in history, as some of his wives, such as Anne Boleyn, played as much of a role in his political and religious decisions as Henry himself. Six! The Musical, written by two university students for the Edinburgh Play Festival in the UK, humanizes the consequential six wives of Henry VIII and conveys their stories and fates in a fun, rock-pop musical format. Furthermore, the show, a little over an hour-long, maintains a concert format, meaning that the characters, solely comprised of the six wives, frequently address and talk to the audience in a modern, updated way. The musical consists of only nine songs: three group numbers, and one solo for each queen. Ultimately, I believe the uniqueness and individuality of Six! achieve the complicated task of humanizing and individualizing each powerful female figure in history. History often glosses over the significant role of women in many events, time periods, and stories, but with a modern and concise twist on the famous story of Henry VIII’s six wives, Six! successfully humanizes the wives while conveying their importance in history.