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Photo by Denys Nevozhai / Unsplash

An enjoyable review by Kyle Smith. It starts by making the reader think the musical is just a leftwing pile of woke garbage, then says, "Well, maybe, but it's a lot of fun."

"The musical Six (ongoing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre), about the half dozen spouses of a much-married Tudor king, is heaping with fascinating historical tidbits. I did not know, for instance, that three of Henry VIII’s six wives were black (and one was Asian), I didn’t know that the sad fate of the first five was to be “unfriended,” and I hadn’t heard that all of them dressed like interstellar cocktail waitresses. Nor did I know that these famously ill-used women were secret avatars of girl power. Introducing themselves in a blastoff of an opening number, “Ex-Wives,” they sing, “Get your hands up, get this party buzzin’/ you want queen bees? Well, here’s half a dozen.”

"The show is, in a word, outlandish, but it’s also a great deal of fun, the musical event of the (admittedly bleak) Broadway season and by far the most ingenious and enjoyable offering on the Rialto since the pandemic began. Even before this “historemix,” as the ladies call it, came to town after an eighteen-month delay, the cast album derived from the West End production that launched in 2019 began attracting attention among American teens, who have led the cheers for its giddy rhymes, its slick beats, and its retrofitting of patriarchal history to today’s girl-centered Instagram sensibility.

"The production turns a bit maudlin in the end, but mostly it’s a laugh, rewriting the dramas of the sixteenth century with pop and R&B beats and lyrical chutzpah. How can you not love a zingy dance number sung by Anne Boleyn in which she says, “Tried to elope but the pope said nope”? Or a synthesizer riff on the deathless melody from “Greensleeves,” supposedly a tune which accompanied a poem written by Henry in honor of Boleyn’s attire? Or a whirlwind dash through the “House of Holbein”—the music alternates between dance club and oom-pah-pah—where the famous painter’s portrait of (number four) Anna of Cleves captivates the king? . . .

"Six isn’t really a full-fledged show but more of a revue, which could have been enriched considerably by the addition of, say, a strong central story. Though omitting the king from the cast is a novel idea that forces us to look back at history from an unexpected direction, the absence of a fully developed libretto is a shame. As it is, each of the ladies tells us her life story in one brief number, plus there are several sung by the entire group."