Review: ‘Six’ Remixes History at the Civic Center

Terica Marie, center, stars as Anne of Cleves, here called Anna, in “Six” through Feb. 19 at the Des Moines Civic Center. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Writer: Michael Morain

If you’re looking for Valentine’s ideas, consider tickets to “Six,” the musical about the wives of Henry VIII who met, in turn, various unromantic fates: “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” At the very least, it’s a heartening reminder: Your love life could always be worse.

Fortunately, the show offers much more. The 2022 Tony winner for best original score and best costumes, at the Des Moines Civic Center through Feb. 19, is a surprisingly upbeat account of a low point in Western civilization, an empowering spectacle powered by an all-female and nonbinary cast and band.

It’s also a cheeky mashup of pop culture and history you may have forgotten from high school. (“Remember us from PBS?”) The setup as a TV sing-off like “The Voice” has just enough narrative thread to stitch together the 80-minute show, where each queen gets a song to show why she suffered the most. They throw a lot of shade under all the bright lights.

They also realize, of course, that they can rise above their rivalries. But if I had to choose a winner, I’d crown Anna of Cleves (Terica Marie), who channels Nicki Minaj and Rihanna in a rowdy, unapologetic account of her post-divorce life of leisure. (“I ain’t saying I’m a gold-digger, but check my prenup and go figure.”)

The choreography moves fast and the lyrics even faster, so if you go, you may want to listen to a recording before or after. The original Broadway cast album was nominated for one of this past weekend’s Grammy Awards, where the queens would have dazzled the red carpet in their metallic Tudors-meet-Jetsons couture.

Another tip if you go: The Royal Mile is just around the corner. Why not pop in and raise a pint or two – or six – to love? Time heals most wounds, and hope springs eternal.

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