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BroadwayCon Spotlight Panel: ‘SIX’ Creators Dish on Remixing History

Category Broadway

|by Danielle Moore |


The Brit-born creative team spilled the tea (and crumpets) on their Broadway-bound pop musical

For the casual theatergoer, British royal history likely conjures images of frilly collars, feathered hats, and religious schisms. But for Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow, the creators of the Broadway-bound musical SIX – as well as the hit show’s international following, who have singlehandedly made the show’s studio recording the most-streamed cast album in the world – it also inspired an unexpected sonic connection. Drawing inspiration from the autobiographical underpinnings of Beyoncé’s Live at Roseland concert, Moss and Marlow envisioned a musical about the six wives of Henry VII – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr – told in a pop concert format, with each wife singing in a different subgenre of 2000s hits.

While some songs, like the ridiculously infectious “No Way” (which has been streamed, to date, over 6.5 million times on Spotify), are broad, hook-laden earworms that could rival any recent Katy Perry release in catchiness, others cleverly incorporate highly specific historical facts about each figure. On Sunday, Moss and Marlow took the BroadwayCon main stage, alongside two of the show’s lead producers, to dish on bringing SIX to Broadway and beyond. 

The Chicago cast of the Broadway-bound musical ‘SIX’ (Photo: Liz Lauren)

The Chicago cast of the Broadway-bound musical ‘SIX’ (Photo: Liz Lauren)

Producers Wendy and Andy Barnes were immediately drawn to the uniqueness of the piece when they saw its premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. Passionate about theater that will help to build “younger audiences, more diverse audiences, new audiences,” they fostered the musical to a return engagement at the same festival the following year, followed by a hit West End run. Since then, the piece has played Chicago, Boston, and onboard Norwegian Cruise ships. An Australian tour is also in the works. 

When prompted to named some of their musical influences for the piece, Moss and Marlow immediately cited Beyoncé, Rihanna, and music producer Max Martin (who has created hits for some of the biggest ladies in pop today, among them Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Britney Spears). The question soon arose of which current pop music diva the pair would want to take the SIX stage. The writing team’s answer? Lizzo, who recently took home Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album, and best Traditional R&B Performance. Hence, the hashtag #LizzoforSIX was born.

One fun anecdote that the team shared was their behind-the-scenes account of when co-writer Toby Marlow made his West End debut in the role of Catherine Parr on the West End after several cast members fell ill. When he got the call that he would go on, Marlow says, he was “sitting in my flat eating crumpets.” His co-writer’s advice, upon hearing that he would perform that night: “Don’t make it about you!”

The team also hinted at the message they hope that Broadway audiences will take away from the show. Producer Andy Barnes summed it up by citing a phrase whose entry into the pop lexicon in recent years coincides perfectly with the beginning of SIX’s reign on stages across the world: “Real queens fix each other’s crowns.” ■

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