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Girl power! Henry VIII’s wives air their grievances in ‘SIX’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Girl power! Henry VIII’s wives air their grievances in ‘SIX’
The North American SIX Aragon Tour. PHOTO: Joan Marcus

Henry VIII’s six wives are tired of his nonsense. A beheading can really drain a girl’s energy. In “Six,” headed to the Emerson Colonial Theatre Nov. 9–Dec. 31, the wives take the stage as diva performers in a show that’s part concert, part history lesson and part Bravo TV special.

During the show, each wife gets to tell her side of the story, a long overdue airing of grievances. Each wife has a “queenspiration” — a popular vocalist like Beyoncé or Alicia Keys that inspires the style of her songs and her attitude. The 90-minute performance provides a space for empowerment, sisterhood and closure that most of these women didn’t have in real life.

Khaila Wilcoxon as Catherine of Aragon (center) in The North American SIX Aragon Tour. PHOTO: Joan Marcus.

Khaila Wilcoxon plays Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. “My Catherine of Aragon is very different from what people see in other productions,” says Wilcoxon. “I would call my Catherine of Aragon animated Cardi B queenspiration with a little bit of Beyoncé flair.”

The original Catherine of Aragon may not have romped around in a bejeweled miniskirt (though, who knows?), but her character is rooted in facts. “Six” creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss did thorough research on the queens while writing the show, and some of the quotes in their songs are pulled directly from original diaries and letters.

Wilcoxon hopes “Six” will remind its audience members of their own power. “I hope they take away that women are just as strong as men and there is no competition,” she says. “We don’t have to fight each other; we can all band together.”

Olivia Donalson as Anna of Cleves (center) in The North American SIX Aragon Tour. PHOTO: Joan Marcus.

The show is energetic and hilarious, and it showcases a high level of vocal talent from each of the six performers. It also provides an important opportunity for historical contemplation. These women were never given the opportunity to speak their minds or even have their own lives. “Six” gives voice to the women and vicariously sheds light on the centuries of female stories that were never told. It also injects the history with diversity that’s often left off the pages of textbooks.

“This cast is so special because we are the first all-women-of-color cast of ‘Six.’ It hits differently,” says Wilcoxon. “It feels beautiful to tell this story on stage for the young little women of color who are in the audience. They get to see themselves in every single light, and that’s so beautiful.”

“Six” originated in the U.K. and first debuted in Boston in 2019 at the American Repertory Theater, a sort of Broadway tryout before skyrocketing to New York fame. Now back in the Hub, the performance provides a European history refresher straight off Spotify. Come for the feministic reclamation, stay for the chart-topping tunes.