Have you ever seen a musical based on the six wives of Henry VIII performing as a girl band? Probably not, but this is your chance, and you really shouldn't miss it. SiX is a new musical written and performed by students of the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society, which brings the six wives together as a 21st-century girl band under the catchy tagline "divorced, beheaded, LIVE!"
The sass, excellent historical puns and powerfully feminist aura reveal this is a student production, but the performance is to a professional standard. Although the story is based on historically accurate facts, there’s no need to look over your old textbooks beforehand as the context is thoroughly explained. The content is quite cheeky at times, but subtle enough to fit the 12+ age guideline, and in fact the performance seemed appropriate for all tastes; I was pleasantly surprised that even my not-a-musical-theatre-type companion declared it to be his favourite show of the Fringe so far.
The choreography is high-energy, beautifully encapsulating the flouncing, microphone-brandishing glamour of the early 2000s girl-band golden age. There were one or two minor slip-ups in timing, and a few hesitant high notes in the first two songs, but the cast soon warmed up to show off staggering individual singing talent. During the joint opening number, I wondered who would stand out and outshine the others, but the truth is that each and every one of the former queens sparkled as brightly as their tiaras.
The performance is accompanied by a live band – adding to the enormous energy in the room – and there’s a good balance of slow emotional songs and snazzy, upbeat numbers, which I left the theatre still singing to myself. The show comfortably navigates the choppy waters of bringing six historical figures (who lived and died at different times) onto a 21st-century stage together, and the cast slip breezily between addressing each other as the six wives and interacting with the audience as the next big thing in sassy girl bands.
It was very obvious that the performers were enjoying themselves, and the audience couldn’t help but be drawn in by their infectious good humour. The show is a wonderful combination of witty lyrics and outstanding musical talent. It’s clever, hilarious, and uplifting; I left the theatre thinking that perhaps the world isn’t such a terrible place if today’s students are capable of excellence on this scale.si