Divorced. Beheaded. Live. These are the outcomes of the historical heroines married to King Henry VIII, and the subjects of a new smash hit musical opening in Australia early January. Six is the tale of six fierce Tudor women; Aragon, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard and Parr. A celebration of these rebellious Queens plus all the chutzpah and grit of girl power, then and now!
WAAPA graduate Loren Hunter plays Henry VIII third wife, (and mother of King Edward VI) Jane Seymour, who died from complications of childbirth, and is purported to have been Henry’s favourite. Hunter says the best part about playing Seymour is that she is written in a way that is a beautiful balance between goofy and anchored. “She leads with the heart but doesn’t take herself too seriously,” says Hunter. “The challenge has been finding that balance!”
Hunter describes Seymour as a warrior woman – savvy, mindful, goofy, intelligent, authentic and a woman of great integrity. The daughter of a knight, Seymour was of lower birth than most of Henry’s wives but, for Hunter, she is much more than she is depicted in history. “Seymour has a lot of love to give and she wanted nothing more than to be a beautiful role model to young women around her and mother to her son but, sadly, she couldn’t be the latter for very long,” says Hunter about Seymour’s death at the age of 28 just 12 days after childbirth.
Another discovery that resonated with Hunter was that Seymour re kindled the relationship between Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, Mary, (later to become Queen Mary I ) and the King. “They say that Mary would not have been as happy if it weren’t for Seymour and her conscious effort in bringing Mary back into the fold,” says Hunter.
After its grassroots beginnings at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, Six is now a smash hit phenomena! Written by two Cambridge University students, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss (who also takes on the co-director’s role with Jamie Armitage), while studying for their final exams, Six has taken on the West End this year (for which it received five Olivier Award nominations), is Broadway bound in February 2020 and makes its Australian debut in January, where it will play at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre, and Adelaide’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. And it is exactly this hype around the show that attracted Hunter initially.” I then listened to the show and thought it was incredibly clever, sassy, electric and empowering,” she says. “Currently in rehearsals there is a magic in the air… and I think that’s credit to the amazing women that came before us and the way “SIX” depicts them. I want to be where the magic is. Why do it otherwise!” Hunter describes the audition period as challenging. “I loved that it was all about individuality and diversity,” says Hunter, who was working a shift at her retail job at the time and got the ‘call’ from her agent right at the end of the shift. “Safe to say I was blasting the SIX cast recording at close,” she says.
The Australian cast is: Chloé Zuel, Kala Gare, Kiana Daniele, Courtney Monsma, Vidya Makan and Hunter, of course, who has worked with a few of the ladies before. “They are all such hard working women but what I’ve noticed is that each woman is not trying to be anyone but herself,” she says of her cast mates ” Their sense of individuality and fearlessness inspires me.”
Joining the SIX Australian Queens will also be the extremely talented swings Ella Burns, Karis Oka and Shannen Alyce Quan.
In Six, Marlow and Moss transform six powerful women from Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses as they tell their rebellious tales in this original pop musical, accompanied by a phenomenal all-female band and inspired by the canon of music divas like Adele, Lily Allen and Ariana Grande. An inspirational and uplifting score that Hunter describes as anthemic. “Imagine all your favourite pop songs in one show,” she says. “They often sound like you’ve heard them before but they offer something completely new and inventive at the same time.”
Who would have thought that this show – that tells a tale about women who lived in England’s Tudor period – would become the ferocious musical power house that it has – as well as resonate with so many. For Hunter its success lies in the fact that it’s about reclaiming your power and because that is often a struggle for some. “Watching these SIX women play that journey out and finish on top makes it feel possible that others can do the same,” she says. Its fundamental power lies in its positive message for women, says Hunter, who succinctly sums that message up in one sentence…That we are enough as we are. “Your perception of someone is often very different to the truth,” she says.
SIX twists the narrative from five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st-century girl power. Hunter predicts that it will be an experience that is unlike anything you’ve ever encountered!
From January 2020