SIX. Teen Edition.

Date 29th September 2023
Society NK Theatre Arts
Venue George Lawton Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Paul Wilson assisted by Lucy Worthington
Musical Director Ceri Graves
Choreographer Amy Walker
Written By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

Report

Author: Steph Niland

SIX the musical has become a cultural phenomenon. Its whistlestop ‘historical’ tour of the wives of Henry VIII is so popular due to its variety of musical genre, content, humour, and style. This teen edition by NK Theatre Arts, grabbed all of those and presented a punchy, funny spectacle and the performers and creative team definitely understood the brief – this is a reclamation of the historical stories of strong and characterful real women whose accounts have been skewed, forgotten or written by historians more interested in their spouse or demise.

NK Theatre Arts youth, had two casts – House Holbein and House Tudor. Unfortunately, this review is only based on one of these casts, but if the talent shown was reflected in the other cast, and by all accounts it was, then NK Theatre Arts can be immensely proud of this young and talented group of performers.

It was a great concept to have the band on stage, getting in on the action. This all-female crew, known as the Ladies in Waiting was fronted by the very capable Ceri Graves, who obviously musically directed this piece brilliantly – the singing was definitely a real strength here and the harmonies spot on.

 Director Paul Wilson, assisted by Lucy Worthington provided an energetic and compelling staging that suited the enthusiastic cast, with moments of stillness used to good effect and sass oozing from the group scenes. Each member of the cast was at home talking to the crowd as well as to each other and that is testament to how a production team and cast gel and nurture each other’s talent and a trust ensues.

Choreographer Amy Walker furnished us with non-stop movement that was dramatic, well suited to each genre of song with nuggets of interesting choreo that entertained and played to the strengths of the cast.

Catherine Parr played ably by Tilly Smith, gave a gravitas and sensible element to the group. The voice of reason felt believable and although at times she seemed less confident a mover, her performance wasn’t lacking for it. It was an endearing and charming rendition, and her solo number was a highlight.

Full of moxie and attitude was Madaleine Mayo as Katherine Howard. A little difficult to fully grasp some of the lines at the very start, due to delivery or microphone handling but this soon calmed, and every word was distinct thereafter. Madaleine ensured the audience didn’t miss the seriousness of her number, the message was clear, and she handled it beautifully. The audience is lulled into a false sense of security, thinking this strong woman is singing a humorous number, but the reality dawns and they’re left feeling uneasy – that is an effective performance.  

Rebecca O’Sullivan gave a very capable performance as Anne of Cleves. She worked the stage well and was a clear team player in the group scenes and songs. Her facial expressions and reactions were great to witness.

Anne Boleyn played by Mia Hancox was laugh out loud funny. This is an actress who knows how to play comedy and who had fabulous comic timing and an understanding of how to make a repeating joke funnier as the show unravels. Not to mention a wonderfully clear and melodic singing voice and excellent dance skills.

Freya Gow gave a fabulous performance as Catherine of Aragon. Assured, confident and with excellent diction and a grasp on the style of humour and assertiveness this piece needs. Along with a wonderful talent in musical theatre singing that she moulded to suit this more pop/modern field.

The last of the SIX is Jane Seymour played by the gifted Grace Macdonald. Grace supplied the standout vocal performance of the evening with Heart of Stone. Impressive control, this number kept building and was both a tour de force of her talents as a singer and actress, because it was heart- wrenching, moving and exhibited remarkable vocal skills all at once.

A powerful show, visually and in execution. You wouldn’t know that they had to contend with a venue change. The  lack of any evidence of the upheaval shows how professional and dedicated the whole cast and creative crew are. Congratulations all.