Seeing "SIX" is like going to a full-on rock concert -- and it's quite possibly the most enjoyable way to learn history, too.
"Remember us, from PBS?" quips Catherine of Aragon, portrayed by Gerianne Pérez, in the show's opener "Ex-Wives," where each of Henry VIII's queens recounts her fate: "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."
The Boleyn Tour of the Broadway hit show opened Tuesday evening at the Walton Arts Center to a packed and excited house ready to watch the "histo-remix" of each Tudor queen turned pop diva.
In a podcast with What's Up!, Pérez explained that the history is "spoon fed" to the audience, but despite all the information, "SIX" is an "action-packed" and non-traditional musical. The idea is that each wife is comparing her story to see who had it worse than the others.
Going in, I was a little concerned that there would be too much information piled into each song. Now I can see where all those nuggets of history make it more fun to listen to the soundtrack later.
"I think some people hesitate to go see a historical revision show because they're afraid that they don't have the foundational knowledge to keep up with the story," explained Sydney Parra, who usually plays Catherine Parr, in an interview with What's Up!
"We give you everything you need. Surprisingly, we're able to pack a lot of information into a very short amount of time. And it's quite historically accurate."
The humor balances on the way that women are catty with one another by saying seemingly nice things like "bless your heart." Since the show is so short, this device doesn't get overplayed too much. Instead, the music allows the story to keep moving ahead (pun not intended).
Perez told us that the cast actually watched concerts by Beyonce as preparation for their characters. Even the music follows pop music -- you hear shades of Avril Lavigne, Janelle Monae, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and so many others. There's even a live band -- "Ladies in Waiting" -- who are introduced twice during the show.
For music fans, picking a favorite song from "SIX" is as impossible as picking a favorite costume or wife from the show. As Queen Catherine Parr, played by understudy Taylor Pearlstein on opening night, finally asks: "What gets the biggest cheer -- trauma or abuse?"
That being said, Jane Seymour would get my vote for the best costume because I really love her glittery sleeves, but no one steals the show. Each actress gives the others space, and they all work well off one another. I loved the way that Zan Berube, who plays Anne Boleyn, kept interjecting that she was beheaded.
There was a moment last night where Terica Marie, who portrays Anna of Cleves, had to improvise with a fan -- which is a rare thing to see on Baum Walker stage -- but it really added to the feeling of being at a concert. There's a lot of call and response, so expect to get up and dance and clap and holler.
I think this is definitely a "girls night out" kind of show, just make sure that you get to the theater early; there is no intermission. Then stroll through Joy Pratt Markham Gallery to see "'Our Art, Our Region, Our Time." It's free and full of lots of local paintings, sculptures, textiles and more.
As for me, I'll be giving the soundtrack another listen to catch what I missed last night.
WHAT -- From Tudor queens to pop icons, the "SIX" wives of Henry VIII take the microphone to remix 500 years of historical heartbreak into a euphoric celebration of 21st century girl power.
WHEN -- 7 p.m. Sept. 13; 1:30 & 7 p.m. Sept. 14; 8 p.m. Sept. 15; 2 & 8 p.m. Sept. 16; 2 p.m. Sept. 17
WHERE -- Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST -- Limited tickets remain. Lottery options available at sixonbroadway.com/lottery.php
INFO -- waltonartscenter.org
BONUS --Listen to our podcast interview with Queens Gerianne Pérez and Sydney Parra on the What's Up! podcast at nwaonline.com/910six/