I realised I was not the target market for this show when the singers who “play” each of the six queens asked who knows the names of the wives of the kings that had come before Henry VIII. As I do I wondered whether I was supposed to shout them out. Then I realised I had missed the point.
The whole premiss of the show is that the women should be seen by HERstory (gettit?) in their own right and not as appendages to the Tudor monarch. They each have their own story to tell. Hmm. Okay.
That’s enough analysis. The six women start off with the well-known list of their fates and then start a talent show as to who deserves to be the, well, I am not sure what really, most deserving, most hard done by etc.
This gave them each the platform to generally belt out a catchy ditty or a deep meaningful ballad. But of course, this is women fighting amongst themselves and of course men are the enemy (and from some of the lyrics not just Henry) so let’s have a bit of sisterhood and, hurrah, history is transformed.
Right, what we basically have is a concert dressed up as a show. Six singers, who even themselves reference the Spice Girls, in zany quasi-Tudor costumes and a backing band on stage, a pretty basic set with a pop concert type of light show. The queens are Chloe Hart as Catherine of Aragon, Jennifer Caldwell as Anne Boleyn, Casey Alshaqsy as Jane Seymour, Aiesha Paese as Anne of Cleves Jaina Brock-Patel as Katherine Howard and Alana M Robinson as Catherine Parr.
There isn’t much more to say. The show is heavily miked, but I think the girls seem to have good voices, and some distinctly better than others. The choreography is lively and varied as are the song styles set within a fast moving 80-minute wall of sound.
Some of the lyrics in the Tony Marlow and Lucy Moss musical were quite clever, others were unintelligible, often peppered with contemporary terminology and expressions, but reasonably historically okay.
The audience, mainly youngish women, loved it and whooped on demand and gave the now standard standing ovation to all musicals at Wales Millennium Centre. The singers seemed surprised at the reception they received which I am sure was genuine.
I thought the evening felt like a pumped-up student show that would do well at the Edinburgh Fringe, but having read some background I see that is exactly what it was. The audience seemed to be on a raucous hen night.
Yes, I can see why the young women enjoyed having a whooping great time but I don’t quite get why this is seemingly such a successful entertainment let alone how it made it to the Donald Gordon stage for a week but then, as I say, the audience was very enthusiastic.
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs … and so on.
Wales Millennium Centre until May 14.