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Broadway SF’s ‘Six’ radiates as vibrant, ‘girlboss’-inspired concert

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MARCH 06, 2023

Playful and energetic, Broadway SF’s “Six” is an ecstatic concert of girl power, a production best approached by viewers as a spectacle more than anything else. But while the musical, performed at the Orpheum Theatre, certainly shines bright, don’t be surprised to leave the hour-and-a-half show feeling more empty than inspired. Even though it now suffers from a dated message clearly conceived over half a decade ago in 2017, “Six” is a tightly engineered pageantry intended to deliver rousing feminist rhetoric by its six lead actresses. 

“Six” opens with relentless synths and an equally vigorous ensemble, each member vocalizing how they parted with their famously terrible ex-husband, Henry VIII. The one-act musical parades itself as a girl-band-driven concert, where each ex-wife pitches to the audience why she suffered the most while married to the king. Though “Six” is a vocal tug-of-war, the ensemble skillfully dashes alongside each other, playfully poking fun while complementing each other’s solos. 

Anne Boleyn (Storm Lever) enchants as the promiscuous first wife to be beheaded, delighting in her peppy pop-rock solo, “Don’t Lose Your Head.” Just as childish as she is clever, Lever is dynamic onstage, her loveable exuberance neatly packaged into a modern take on the playful adulteress. Delightfully confident and pumped with charisma, Catherine of Aragon (Khaila Wilcoxon) similarly radiates cocksure charm. Both women come the most alive through small interactions and jokes they share throughout each other’s numbers. While quieter than her fellow queens, Jane Seymoure (Jasmine Forsberg) delivers earnest quips that perfectly balance her lavish counterparts — a testament to the show’s impressive feat of juggling six leads. 

The sound of “Six” is carved right out of the 2010s girl pop scene – Beyoncé, Adele, Lily Allen and Ariana Grande are just a few of the female artists that sing through the queens’ singles. The final song’s opening ukulele chords are even taken right from 2000s girl band G.R.L.’s “Ugly Heart,” and familiar lyrics such as “Okay, ladies, let’s get into formation” are cheekily tucked into numbers throughout the show. 

While “Six” might not have multiple acts or an ever-changing set, the show maintains momentum with playful moments of surprise. In the single “Haus of Holbein,” the stage is transformed into a German nightclub as glow-in-the-dark fixtures and sunglasses donned by the cast sparkle under UV light. 

If there ever was a pop concert in the 16th century, it would undeniably be what “Six” has brought to life on stage. Behind the queens, baroque-inspired lighting outlines cathedral-like peaks that sync up with music, providing just enough royal flair to not overpower the wives’ already extravagant presences. Though the stage may be stagnant besides the lights and the band, “Six” cleverly utilizes all aspects of its stage design. In one instance, the lights even transform into a faux-16th century Tinder portrait illuminating potential new wives for Henry. 

However, these contemporary elements also reveal where “Six” begins to stumble. In playing with its modern spin on the wives, references like texting lingo often land as clumsily dated. “Six” seems hesitantly aware of its feminist rhetoric, but especially when paired with these frequently cringey callbacks, its girl-power messaging falls flat into easily recognizable “girlboss” territory. Instead, the show’s central theme is certainly best heard through the individual queens and their harrowing, hilarious tales attempting to survive the male-dominanted courts of 16th-century Europe. 

While “Six” may suffer from some dated messaging issues, at its core, the show is deliciously fun, its concert-esque medium making for rousingly interactive theater. On several occasions, the audience clapped, danced and cheered for the girl band, fully transforming the Orpheum Theatre into a 16th-century pop show. Surrounded by a triumphant encore and dancing theatergoers, the queens beam with star power that fills the entire theater and fuels the entire production.

Contact Addison Lee at 


MARCH 06, 2023