The Cast of "Six" (Photo by Joan Marcus, provided by PPAC)

Whatever you do, don’t go into “Six,” the Broadway musical at the Providence Performing Arts Center through next Sunday, April 23, expecting a boring historical look at the six wives of Henry VIII.

“Six” is an amazing and stunning work, unlike any Broadway show that preceded it. Presented in concert form, complete with fantastic music and an impressive light show, “Six” showcases each of Henry’s wives, letting them tell their stories in a “contest” to determine which of them suffered most.

All six queens are on stage with hand-held microphones for the whole show, along with four musicians – two guitarists (one on bass), a drummer and a keyboardist, reinforcing the concert feel.

Six at PPAC

The music varies, from ballads to techno mixes. The choreography is spectacular, and the costuming mixes vaguely Tudor outfits with a generous amount of glitter.

The lively opening number “Ex-Wives” starts simply with each queen pronouncing her fate. “Divorced… Beheaded… Died… Divorced… Beheaded… Survived.” No spoiler alerts – this is herstory, after all.

Each queen tells her story in chronological order. First up is Catherine of Aragon (Gerianne Perez), a Spanish princess married to Henry to maintain the crown’s European alliances. According to the show’s program, her song “No Way” is inspired by Beyonce and Shakira.

Next up is Anne Boleyn (Zan Berube). Henry’s marriage to her, which required that he divorce Catherine, earned him an ex-communication from the Catholic Church and led to the establishment of the Church of England. Her song “Don’t Lose Ur Head” is hilarious and played perfectly. Berube provides a lot of the show’s comic relief.

After Anne loses her head – which she constantly talks about – we have Jane Seymour (Cecilia Snow), the only one Henry ever loved. Well, that’s what she says. She’s the one who died, following the birth of her son, Edward. Her song, “Heart of Stone,” is a dramatic love letter, both to Henry and Edward. It’s a wonderfully sung ballad, with inspiration from Adele.

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Following Jane Seymour, Henry searched Europe for a new bride, and settled on Anna of Cleves (Terica Marie) of Germany after seeing her portrait. The queens get together to tell her story in “Haus of Holbein.” Anna gets to tell her own story in “Get Down,” with inspiration from Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.

Henry quickly divorced Anna (she lasted only six months as queen) and married 16-year-old Catherine Howard (Aryn Bohannon). Her song, “All You Wanna Do,” tells about her “connections” with all sorts of lovers. The song sounds like something by Ariana Grande or Britney Spears. Her “connections” haunt her, and after being accused of adultery, she’s beheaded.

Henry’s final wife – who “saw him to the end of his life” – was Catherine Parr. Her song, “I Don’t Need Your Love,” is addressed to Thomas Seymour (brother of Jane) with whom she’d fallen in love. But when she caught the King’s eye, she had no choice but to ask Thomas to leave her alone so that neither of them would get Henry mad.

“Six” runs about 80 minutes with no intermission. It is toe-tapping hand-clapping fun from the very beginning. There is no fourth wall here. The queens address the audience, and milk the end of their songs for applause.

Two things to note. On Wednesday night, three alternates stepped into queen roles. Bohannon, Glover, and Snow travel with the show, but don’t always get to perform. Last night, they were terrific. It’s always great to see that.

And you may notice “Greensleeves” worked into the show at a couple of spots. Curious, I looked it up. Legend has it that Henry VIII composed the song himself to honor and seduce Anne Boleyn. And that explains that.

Overnight, “Six” has become one of my favorite musicals. I’ve had the soundtrack on in the background all day while working. I might even go back to see it again next week. My friends at PPAC say that there are still choice seats available. Based on the buzz this show is generating on social media, those seats will likely sell out quickly. Don’t get shut out.

“Six” runs through April 23 at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For tickets and information, visit or call 401.421.ARTS.

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