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The Hollywood Reporter

‘Six’ Hits Hollywood: Tony-Winning Writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss Remember the Early Days of the Musical Sensation

By Sydney Odman,


Playing at the historic Pantages Theater through Saturday, West End phenomenon and Tony-winning musical Six has finally made its way to Hollywood.

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Six ’s co-creators and writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss never planned for more than a few hundred people to see their modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII.

“It was low stakes,” Marlow remembers about writing the show during their final year of university at Cambridge in 2017. “But we were nervous about it. It was the first time that we were writing something like that together. It was gonna be performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of our year group with writing something that was really bad.

But with graduation just around the corner, the friends were mostly concerned with passing their exams than writing Broadway’s next great hit. “We would meet up in little pockets of time,” Marlow adds. “It was like a fun side project that at the time seemed way less important than what we were prioritizing, [which] was school.”

To put it simply, the show is a full-on pop concert, with each of the six wives drawing inspiration from modern day pop stars like Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne, Adele, Rihanna, Britney Spears and more. The audience dances, cheers and claps along to the electric, 80-minute show, as the ex-wives — Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr — take turns telling their story to prove to the audience which of them suffered the most from their marriages.

The show is just 80 minutes from start to finish — there’s no intermission. While it feels intentional, it’s also because the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where the show was initially submitted , had a time limit.

After the festival, the writers considered expanding the show but ultimately decided against it. “People suggested it, but we said no,” Moss says. “It was sort of a pretty fully formed thing. I felt like trying to change anything or add anything structurally would be like going back to the drawing board.”
Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow at the 2022 Tony Awards

Fresh off graduating university following a successful run at Fringe in 2017 (and 2018), the duo found themselves on the fast track to major playwriting success. Six went on to premiere on the West End in 2019, followed by a win at the Tony Awards for best original score in 2022. Now, six years later, Marlow and Moss remember the moments when they knew their lives were changing.

“Our first meeting with [some of the producers] in an office on Shaftesbury Avenue, out the window of the office was the Les Mis [ érables ] sign above the theater,” Moss recalls. “I remember being in that room talking about professional theater and looking at that Les Mis sign and being like, ‘I can’t believe we’re in a West End office talking about the show.’”

“The first time I saw an advert on the tube,” Marlow says was a moment of awe. And of course, the show’s Broadway debut announcement marked a significant milestone for the pair. The show was set to open on March 12, 2020 — the day that all Broadway theaters shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Being in the Broadway cast, it was pretty terrifying,” says Courtney Mack, who plays Katherine Howard on the North American tour, of the shutdown. “I was getting ready to go to the theater, and we got the text.” But despite Broadway being dark, Six ’s studio recorded album found more and more fans.

“People were craving listening to music, listening to a great cast album with some great voices on it,” adds Storm Lever, who plays Anne Boleyn, of the show’s rapidly growing fanbase during the pandemic. “People really loved this album during ‘quarantimes’ when they didn’t have access to theater and didn’t have access to new things. I feel like, in the States at least, that’s when the show became really popular.”
Storm Lever as Anne Boleyn (center) in the North American ‘Six’ tour.

Nearly a year and half later, Six became the first new musical to open on Broadway after the pandemic-imposed shutdown ended. Since then, the show has toured in Australia, North America, South Korea and, soon, Canada. As Six embarks on more and more tours across the world, Marlow and Moss spend less time than they used to at specific productions. But when they do get to visit the various casts across the world, they relish the uniqueness of each production. And the castmembers are excited to see them.

“Every single time they pop in, you get a little nervous but also so excited because they picked us,” says Khaila Wilcoxon, who plays Catherine of Aragon, about Marlow and Moss. “They know that we’re doing the best that we can with what they’ve given us and they trust us. They allowed each one of the queens in every single company that they’ve ever cast to be their most authentic selves. The individuality that is brought to every single company is incredible.”

Olivia Donalson, who plays Anna of Cleves, agrees: “They really allow all 10 of their companies to have a different energy, because every person is unique, and I love that they celebrate that.”
Courtney Mack as Katherine Howard (center) in the North American Six tour

“Every company of the show is just so different,” Marlow notes. “And seeing the vocal choices that have been made and the way they do the jokes in different ways that are so hilarious and unexpected, it’s such a delight, as the writers, to see your work being done in such different, creative, amazing ways every time you go and see it.”

When asked to describe the show in one word, the cast all said things under the theme of empowerment. Amid the fun and dancing throughout the show, that’s what leaves an impact on audiences.

“I honestly don’t think about it actively that often because when I do, it’s quite overwhelming,” Moss says of the show’s massive reach. “I do find it really moving. It’s really a genuine honor and privilege.”

“We wrote this thinking a couple of 100 people — maybe if we were lucky —would ever see it,” adds Marlow. “As a creator, all you can really hope for is that someone at some point takes something from [it], whether that’s a laugh, or like something to think about once you’ve left the theater, or a feeling that stays with you. That’s so cool that something that we wrote has affected someone in some way. I feel so delighted and unbelievably grateful that we have the chance to have this thing out there, which makes people feel positive and empowered.”

Six is playing at the Pantages until Saturday. Next, the tour will hit Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from Tuesday through June 25.

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