MILWAUKEE — What’s a theater critic to say when a world-renowned tour does in fact blow her away?
When you’re tasked with evaluating a show, going in with too high of expectations can certainly be its downfall. How do you review “Hamilton” fairly when the original cast’s production is available for anyone to stream? I was concerned that this would be the case with “SIX,” and yet, the cast of the Boleyn U.S. tour exceeded every expectation.
There’s one thing I’ll start with: Bravo, ladies.
“SIX” nearly sold out at the Marcus Performing Arts Center weeks before it opened. About a month before opening night, there was a single ticket for a single performance left up for grabs. The show's reputation precedes it; people love it.
The show tells the story of the six wives of King Henry VIII from their perspective, via a pop-concert style show. It’s a format I’ve yet to see on the Marcus Center stage, and it truly dazzled me.
Let’s start with the six leading ladies: Gerianne Pérez (Catherine of Aragon), Zan Berube (Anne Boleyn), Amina Faye (Jane Seymour), Terica Marie (Anna of Cleves), Aline Mayagoitia (Katherine Howard) and Sydney Parra (Catherine Parr). I was sure I’d have a favorite queen by the end of the night, but I truthfully did not. Each was special in her own way, bringing individuality and breathtaking vocals to the stage.
Pérez immediately commands the stage as Henry’s first wife. Her Catherine of Aragon is confident, fierce and powerful, yet full of loyalty and love. Her solo, “No Way,” is an upbeat, energized hit that would rival a Beyonce performance — appropriately so, as Beyonce inspired elements of the character from to costume to the song.
Berube is hilarious as Anne Boleyn. Boleyn is the comedic relief throughout the entire show, taking every opportunity to remind her fellow queens she was beheaded. Her playfulness and ferocious understanding of her character added to the entire show. Boleyn is written as a ditz, which is arguably not historically accurate, but there’s truly no way to fully capture each queen holistically in 80 minutes. Berube’s comedic timing and animated rendition of “Don’t Lose Ur Head” still portray a lovable queen.
Faye, the third wife, delivers a heartbreaking and absolutely breathtaking rendition of “Heart of Stone.” Her vocals are absolutely flawless; she hit every note with a steady emotion that could suck nearly anyone in. I cannot imagine a more perfect Jane Seymour. She certainly left me wanting more.
Marie surprised me as Anna of Cleves. I was not expecting to love her as much as I did. Her “Get Down” is a track that anyone could dance to. With a surprise costume change mid-song, her pure joy and assertive yet poised aura overtook the entire house on Tuesday night. Her song is undoubtedly relatable to any woman who’s been on a dating app, and her charisma is unmatched.
Mayagoitia showed me a side of Katherine Howard I was so happy to see. She pulled off a multi-dimensional self-assured queen, with “boss” energy. At the same time, her upbeat Ariana Grande-esq “All You Wanna Do” delivered a power punch of emotion. With gorgeous vocals to back up her story, she painted Katherine Howard’s pain as much as she did her pride.
Rounding out the wives is Parra as Catherine Parr. She is the driving force behind the feminist themes throughout the show, portraying a quiet leader met with trials and tribulations just as the rest. Despite her sincerity, she maintains a strong woman persona. Not to mention “I Don’t Need Your Love” is, once again, an absolute hit.
My favorite song of the night has to be “Six,” when all six queens come together to celebrate one another, as well as themselves. There’s nothing as sparkly and wonderful as this finale.
The Ladies in Waiting, the musicians of “SIX” are on stage for everyone to see throughout the show, adding to the pop concert vibes. Their musical talent is clear from the second the curtain opens.
Each performer is in a word: Perfection. The show is taken to the next level through its technical elements. The colors and glitter on the costumes (Gabriella Slade) are breathtaking. If I could pull of a skirt like Howard’s, I’d want one in every color. The lighting (Tim Deiling) is phenomenal and adds so much to the show. The tactile elements of “SIX” truly bring it all together.
Of course, the message of the show is one everyone can take to heart: Embrace your power. Don’t let anyone take your voice. Support one another.
There’s really no better way to spend a night at the theater.
Tickets at the Marcus Center are nearly sold out. Limited tickets are available via the Marcus Center Box Office at 414-273-2706. “SIX” will return to Wisconsin at the Overture Center for the Arts this August.