A Brand New Historemix

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A Brand New Historemix

Jessica Anthony

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People love to hate on musicals. They say it’s unrealistic; everyone breaking out into coordinated song and dance is too silly to ever take seriously. I argue, that’s the strength behind the genre: the suspension of disbelief and magic created onstage is unlike any other form of storytelling, and when done well, it can leave audience members with an unforgettable experience.

See, that’s the biggest misconception people have about Musical Theatre: that everything is tired and formulaic – that we have seen it all. Part of the reason I started this column was to show people that the music itself is never constrained to a single genre. A hugely powerful aspect of that, however, is that the actual staging can be so dynamic and unique in ways that Broadway has only begun to explore.

While it has not hit the Broadway stage just yet, one of my absolute favorite musicals ever written is set to hit the stage in February 2020. It is called Six, and it is currently playing on London’s West End, where it has proven massively successful. The concept: Henry VIII’s six ex-wives have gotten together and formed a Little Mix-Esque girl group. The whole show is formatted as a concert, where each queen sings about her experience with Henry and competes to see who had it worst.

Every queen has their own specific pop influence, from Alicia Keys echoing in Catherine Parr’s song to Brittainy Spears being referenced in Katherine Howard’s singing. Together, they sound like Little Mix or Fifth Harmony, both in vocals and in their girl-empowering lyrics. They keep calling the show a historemix – a new take on history that sheds light on their perspectives, and there is truly nothing more empowering than reclaiming your own identity. The stories told about the queens offer a new perspective on their narratives that history has ignored until now, and the show itself is offering a new perspective on musical theatre as an artistic medium that has only begun to take hold.

While the show has yet to open on Broadway, I could not be more excited. Every take on every queen is so unique, and every story has its own aspect that all non-royal patrons can relate to. The direction this show has taken the musical theatre community is unprecedented, but the road so far has already been paved by other groundbreaking musicals: Hamilton, Great Comet, and Hadestown have laid the foundation. While I’m not quite sure if Broadway is ready for this new shift in storytelling, I know I am.