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The queens’ gambit « parterre field – “Probably the most important weblog in opera!” – New York Instances

As we waited earlier than a efficiency of SIX on the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, my companion requested if I might identify the six wives of Henry VIII from reminiscence with out wanting on the program. Impressively—to me, anyway—I got here up with 5. (Sorry, Catherine Parr!)

However what, precisely, did I really find out about these historic figures? Anne Boleyn, in fact, is greatest remembered because the mom of Queen Elizabeth I—an honor for which she was rewarded with decapitation. Catherine of Aragon’s religious Catholic religion triggered the institution of Church of England. Jane Seymour took the triple crown: Henry genuinely cherished her; she bore him a son; and she or he died of pure causes.

However past snatches of trivia, these ladies are probably greatest remembered by the nursery rhyme that opens this transient, high-octane musical, written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss: “Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.” And that’s one thing of an issue.

As one Queen succinctly factors out, all of them come from totally different nations, social backgrounds, non secular traditions, and household dynamics. The one factor they’ve in widespread is their marriage to the identical man. Isn’t it form of reductive that we nonetheless reflexively group them collectively?

Six units out to offer every Queen her personal second within the highlight. As sung within the rousing opening quantity “Ex-Wives”: “I’m completed as a result of all this time / I’ve been only one phrase in a silly rhyme.”

The musical has clearly related with a large viewers since its debut on the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe in 2017. Many within the sold-out viewers of the nationwide tour efficiency I attended appeared to know the phrases to each music and to anticipate the sharp inside jokes earlier than they occurred. However the sharp and glitzy manufacturing, co-directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, doesn’t undergo from a way of staleness as a consequence of familiarity.

With one solo music devoted to every spouse, the six very good solid members infuse their Queens with distinctive personalities. Gerianne Pérez brings a seen-it-all perspective to Catherine of Aragon, and her world-weariness contrasts properly with the youthful insouciance of Zan Berube’s Anne Boleyn. Anne’s social media-centric quantity “Don’t Lose Ur Head” captures the musical’s tongue-in-cheek perspective completely.

As Anna of Cleves—whom Henry allegedly scorned as a result of her bodily magnificence didn’t dwell as much as her Holbein portrait—Terica Marie exhibits how rejection is usually a scrumptious blessing in disguise. Aline Mayagolita is a useless ringer for Ariana Grande as Katherine Howard, who chronicles her flirtatious conduct within the innuendo-laden “All I Wanna Do.”

The richest portrayals accompany the rating’s greatest songs. Amina Faye brings real pathos to “Coronary heart of Stone,” a rafter-shaking pop ballad that expounds on Jane Seymour’s fidelity and devotion. As Catherine Parr, Sydney Parra emerges because the voice of cause, reminding the ladies that they’re greater than their man.

Whether or not I do know any extra in regards to the wives of Henry VIII on a deep intrinsic stage than I did earlier than Six is questionable. The present isn’t a school course—there’s a mega-mix on the finish, somewhat than an examination. However by reframing and reclaiming the narrative, Marlow, Moss and their gifted solid present that herstory is alive, nicely and ready to be found.

Photographs: Joan Marcus



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