Six of the best as King Henry's wives head to Brighton and Southampton
She’s been on the road with Six since last July – and she will remain on the road with it until July this year. And she’s having an absolute blast.
Shekinah McFarlane is Anna of Cleves in the show. Nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, the sell-out international smash hit Six comes billed as the “phenomenon everyone is losing their head over.”
From Tudor queens to pop princesses, Henry VIII’s ladies finally take to the mic to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 90-minute celebration of 21st century girl power (Brighton Theatre Royal, March 17-21 and Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, July 1-5).
“I think what makes it work so well is that every single Queen has something for people to relate to, no matter what your gender, your age, your race, your whatever,” Shekinah says. “Everyone single Queen has got something, and we have made them stronger. We have made their stories strong.”
The point is that there is much, much more to the Queens than the old rhyme Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived…. as the show sets out to show us.
Each of the Queens sings in the style of a pop princess or two, and Shekinah is delighted to be Anna of Cleves: “Funnily enough, I wasn’t in for Cleves at the start.
“I was in for Aragon and Seymour. We went through the first round, and they thought what would be best for us. I think they just go with their instinct, and I ended being offered Cleves, which is great.
“Cleves is the party animal. She knows how to have a good time. She is fun-orientated.”
And she’s the one for whom it all works out. Quickly ditched by Henry, she gets a royal palace instead – and that’s absolutely fine by her: “She gets by far the best deal!”
Everywhere the show goes, the response is brilliant: “Some people don’t really know what they are going to get, but especially in the big cities, there is a brilliant party atmosphere.
“In some places, it can take people a little while to warm up, but everyone always has a great time.”
And the lovely thing for the performers is the degree of freedom they have got: “That’s the big thing about it. The whole creative team want every single actress to bring themselves to the character. They want us to have our own interpretations of the characters and really take ownership of them. If you see another production, it would be completely different.
“Going from being part of the London production to going out on tour has also been completely different. I love it when you have what feels like a home, but it is great to be seeing other places too, and I am quite used to being on the road… though there is still something about being in town in the same place and finding that stability. But on the road we have a lot of fun. We are a real team together.
“I just love it. It is non-stop. You have got the audience with you, and everybody just rides this rollercoaster of emotions. Everyone is up for a great time.
“And I think I am very different to last July now. I think I have got a much more stable relationship now with how I want to portray my version of Cleves. I can trust my instincts a lot more. I don’t have to second-guess anything about being on stage with the girls. It is just brilliant.”