‘Six’ rules as pop take on history

‘Six’ rules as pop take on history

© Provided by Boston Herald
Gabriela Carrillo as Catherine Parr in ‘Six.’ (Photo by Joan Marcus)

“Six” is a complex, subversive and biting takedown of the modern music industry, the ongoing ignorance of the roles women play in history, and the destructive legacy of the patriarchy.

It’s also a love letter to modern pop.

The Broadway musical “Six,” which runs through Dec. 31 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, puts the story of Henry VIII’s wives on stage. The queens, often reduced to the grim rhyme “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” become pop stars competing against each other on a sort of dystopian “American Idol.” It’s wickedly funny, very dark, incredibly smart, and shot through with gloriously bouncy and bright pop music.

“Sometimes some of the themes in the show hit me hard on particular days,” Gabriela Carrillo told the Herald – Carrillo plays Catherine Parr, the wife that survived. “Sometimes I hear a line in a new way and I have to be careful not to completely break down and cry.”

Carrillo’s Parr plays a unique role in the show. She questions why the women need to compete with each for the audience’s attention.

“I love playing this role,” Carrillo said. “I go on such a major journey through the show that I think surprises the audience, surprises Catherine Parr as a character.”

The role, and all of “Six,” seem tailor made for Carrillo.

A Berklee-alum, Carrillo spent most of her teen years in love with pop. Musical theater sat firmly in the background, while writing and singing songs aimed at the Top 40 dominated her life. And “Six” is as much a contemporary pop tribute as it is a Broadway show. The historical queens channel music queens from Adele to Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj to Miley Cyrus – fans of Lily Allen’s “Sheezus” must see “Six.”

“You almost forget that you are doing a theater production,” Carrillo said. “I feel like I get to tap into all sorts of pop diva archetypes that live within me during the show and that is so fulfilling and so fun. If I was in a more traditional show, that pop side of me would have to come out in another way. I’d have to do some of my own live shows or maybe I would just have it screaming inside of me to get out.”

The performances have the energy of Dua Lipa at the Garden. The songs are as tight as a Carly Rae Jepsen jam. But this is still a musical – which a narrative arc a concert or album doesn’t offer.

The characters bicker and snipe through this dark story and glittering spectacle, but Carrillo sees the show’s moral through the bitter parody.

“A message of ‘Six’ is not to be threatened by those who can lift you up,” she said.

For tickets and details, visit boston.broadway. 

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