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West High Theater Takes the Stage with Electrifying Performance of SIX: The Musical (Teen Edition)

“SIX: The Musical (Teen Addition)” brings the tragedy and injustice of King Henry VIII’s six wives to light through pop culture and women’s empowerment. Henry’s longest and first marriage was with his wife, Catherine of Aragon. With Henry’s need for a male son, he attempted a divorce with Catherine of Aragon for only being able to produce one child—a girl—but the Pope refused this divorce. Henry soon met Anne Boleyn, who became the subject of his interest, but Boleyn was hesitant to get involved with someone who was still legally married. After his proposal, Boleyn became Henry’s second wife. Henry ended up expressing extreme jealousy and paranoia over the idea that Boleyn was being unfaithful with little to no evidence, and she was accused and then beheaded. Only days later, Henry married Jane Seymour to be his third wife. Seymour gave birth to Henry’s first male son but died of complications. Two years later, Henry tried to find his fourth wife by looking through portraits, and he found Anne of Cleves. When she arrived, Henry attempted to stop the wedding because he didn’t like her appearance. Anne of Cleves and Henry ended up having to proceed with their marriage, but she accepted a divorce six months later, known as the “ugly wife.” Katherine Howard soon became the fifth wife after Henry got overweight and was not able to walk. Henry was extremely thankful for this, but rumors started about Howard committing adultery and dying from execution. Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr, was seen as kind and nurturing, but Henry’s court thought Parr's religious behavior toward Protestantism was untrustworthy. She ended up convincing Henry she was loyal to him, and their marriage lasted until Henry’s death. Parr became known as the survivor. 

The show started with an exciting, high-energy introduction of the six ex-wives and how their marriage to Henry ended. The performance revolved around a competition in which an ex-wife had a more tragic experience being married to Henry. Each wife went into the spotlight in order to share their story and make their case to the audience through song. As each wife performed in chronological order, the other wives were the backup singers and dancers. This made the musical even more entertaining, as each wife antagonized each other through witty remarks. Ali Howerton played the first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Howerton captured this role with fire while expressing Catherine’s resentment towards Henry’s demanded divorce. Emma Miracle played Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, with flavorful, sarcastic humor that used Boleyn’s beheading as comedic relief throughout the entire show. With this, Miracle was also able to convey the confusion of being the victim of such a ridiculous accusation. The third ex-wife of Henry, Jane Seymour, was played by Christine Shumann. Schumann connected with the audience on an emotional level when singing about her love for Henry and being taken from her son. While the rest of the ex-wives’ songs were more upbeat or energetic, Seymour’s story was full of heartbreak and grief. Gabby Adams brought the heat with her song, Anne of Cleves. Adams took the stage as Henry’s fourth ex-wife and gave power back to Anne of Cleves and her name, as a great display of feminine rage was revealed with her performance. Liah Hickman played Howard (the fifth ex-wife) and grabbed the audience’s attention by taking them through Howard’s dramatic shift in experience while being in a relationship with Henry. Hickman portrayed the fun and excitement of romance turning into Howard’s lack of control and fear when furthering into the marriage. This performance was so full of vulnerability and depth that the audience was silent in order to really soak up Howard’s truth. The sixth and final ex-wife was played by Caroline Best. The elephant in the room was that Parr was let off easy in her marriage with Henry because she was the queen that survived.

Best makes a point to clear up this stigma by reminding the rest of the queens and the audience that their story revolves around Henry. It is all they are known for: that this shouldn’t be a competition but a change in history. The rest of the show emphasizes Catherine of Aragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Howard, and Parr as queens who deserve to be heard, not just the ex-wives of Henry.

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