“Six” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – October 5, 2022


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“Six” is an entertainment extravaganza but it is not a conventional musical as it tells the story of English King Henry VIII’s diverse half-dozen wives.

The musical’s approach to the historic tale is delivered in very contemporary ways avoiding conventional musical theater storytelling techniques.  The score, which explains much of the story, is steeped in the pulsating beat of modern dance hall style tunes associated with that musical genre.  The song lyrics often have a clever wit.  So, the familiar plot is exuberantly presented with splashy choreography and dizzyingly upbeat, if undistinguished, tunes.

To quote a friend, “It’s not a musical as we know them; it is like being at a fashionable dance club.” The show boasts loud music and lots of visual diversions with clever lighting effects to keep your focus on the sparkling razzle-dazzle and showy distractions.  Another friend compared “Six” to a wild Disneyland ride.

The show brings the raucous dance club environment to the contemporary Broadway musical and with it an appeal to a new generation of audiences who usually avoid Broadway musicals.  Like many current entertainments, “Six” plays out in a scant 72 minutes without an intermission.

The touring show is fine for what “Six” is about as it explores its unique way to tell often stodgy history.  Many ASU Gammage Broadway audiences may not take to “Six” unless they can forget classical musicals, concentrate less on the story and focus solely on the dazzling performance.

Opening night, the audience cheered throughout and understood the unique historical explanation.  “Six” is loud and the dreadful ASU Gammage acoustics make it impossible to understand the lyrics even though the cast members each hold a microphone throughout the performance.  Not comprehending the lyrics is an issue with “Six” since each wife’s unique reason for being with King Henry VIII is different as the six characters explain how they became involved with the King and how their tenure ended.  For those unfamiliar with the history, the house program notes are worth reading before the performance.

The cast is lifted from the show’s milieu and can’t be assessed using typical theater standards.  No one on stage talks normally because everyone shrieks and howls to the show’s foot-stomping songs.

Like most ASU Gamage Broadway attractions, “Six” plays here only through Sunday.  Because season subscribers purchase most of the engagement’s seats, few tickets remain for those interested in this new type of musical.  “Six” continues through October 9 at ASU Gammage.  If available, tickets may be obtained by calling Ticketmaster at 480-965-2022 or ordering tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Grade: A