CONSIDERING it started life as a student show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, the popularity of Six is nothing short of astonishing.

In less than five years, the musical which allows the six wives of Henry VIII to tell their stories as though at a pop concert has picked up numerous major awards and played to sold out audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Currently there are productions of Six in London’s West End, on Broadway, touring Australia and New Zealand - and on a UK tour which comes to The Lowry at the beginning of August.

If anyone is qualified to comment on the appeal of the show, it’s Jen Caldwell who plays Anne Boleyn in the current touring production and who has in the past three years played all six of the wives.


Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell


“Fans of the show have created a leader board for who has done that the fastest,” she said. “I think I’m still in the top five - it’s a very special group to be part of.

“This is a remarkable show. It’s so clever and witty and yet so historically accurate, it’s amazing. It’s certainly very difficult to explain to people what it’s about. When you say it’s the six wives as if they were a girl band you tend to get a few blank looks. I just tell people to come and see it and they get it straight away.

“It’s remarkable the way it seems to have taken over the world. It’s a show that’s all about women but with a very empowering message. There are no romantic storylines which you often get, it just allows the wives to tell their stories. The message you get is that we support each other and we are our own people. There is no need to compare ourselves with other people which is a really great message to spread to young people for sure.

“The show does appeal to late teens and early twenties, a demographic who have grown up with social media. To be able to get those people and bring them into a theatre and go ‘you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone, you’re amazing as you are’ is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.”


The queens on stage in a previous tour of Six and (left) Jen Caldwell (Main picture: Johan Persson)

The queens on stage in a previous tour of Six and (left) Jen Caldwell (Main picture: Johan Persson)


Jen has been in Six for three years, initially as a swing or understudy, the reason she has played all six queens.

But she readily admits that if given the choice she would have taken that of Anne Boleyn who she plays on this tour.

“Oh, she’s my favourite without a doubt,” she said. “She’s certainly the cheekiest one of the wives which means you can play with the other queens and with the audience quite a lot. All I want to do in my life is make people laugh, I love being silly, so she’s perfect for me.”

Reviewers who have described the show as being part history lesson and part pop concert probably don’t realise how accurate that really is.

“When you get a role in the show you are given a reading list,” said Jen. “Whichever queen you are playing you are given some books to read about them. Then you have to watch a documentary historian Lucy Worsley did on the Tudors for the BBC. Then when you’ve done that you have to watch a DVD of Beyoncé Live at Roseland.

“That’s a great inspiration for the queens, the way she interacts with the audience and tells her story through her songs. When you’ve done the show and then go back to watch it again you can see how much it inspired Six.”

Six is a show about empowerment. For the first time we get to hear the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII told from their own particular viewpoint.


The cast of a previous tour of Six (Picture: Johan Persson)

The cast of a previous tour of Six (Picture: Johan Persson)


“I think audiences are surprised at how much they learn when they come to Six,” said Jen. “But it’s not like a history lesson.”

Clearly audiences love it - tickets for Six are very much in demand and tours play to sold out houses.

“With this show audiences always been rowdy and appreciative and vocal,” said Jen. “Post Covid I feel there is a lot more appreciation for theatre as an art form generally. People are so receptive and so willing to get involved in the theatre.”

As well as playing Anne Boleyn - the second wife of Henry VIII and yes she did lose her head in case you are interested - Jen is also credited as being the social media captain for the tour.

“Yes that’s me,” she laughed. “I’m probably one of the older members of the company and not that technologically adept so I did wonder ‘why me?’ when they asked me to do it.

“But it’s really enjoyable. Given the demographic of much of the audience social media plays a very important part in promoting the show.”

The audience are actually encouraged to film and share the end of the show.

“I get to make lots of little videos and chat to people which is fun,” she said. “There are quite stringent guidelines about how the show is represented and somehow they think I’m responsible enough to do it. I seem to be doing OK.”

This will be the third time that Jen will have been to The Lowry with Six.

“The first time was at Christmas 2019 and I think I played every role during that run,” she said. “We had quite a few illnesses then.”

Six was back for a sold-out run in Christmas 2020 but now it will be heading into the much larger Lyric Theatre at the venue.

“That’s going to be amazing,” said Jen. “I’m from Glossop and I used to come to The Lowry a lot after it opened so to be in a show which is in that big space will be fantastic.”

After The Lowry Jen is scheduled to stay with the tour until well into next year.

“It’s so nice to have guaranteed work for a year especially after Covid,” she said. “And to be in a show like this is such a privilege.”

Six, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, August 2 to Saturday, August 14. Details from