Six The Musical returns to London’s West End.
Divorced, beheaded, and reinvented. Since its inception in 2017 Six has amassed a huge fan base and has evolved and expanded with its success. It retells the story of the six wives of Henry VIII as they battle it out musically over who suffered the most in order to decide who will become the lead singer in their new girl group.
After its premier at the Edinburgh Fringe, Six toured the UK with a sound design based around the d&b Y-Series. It then enjoyed a residency at the Arts Theatre in London’s West End before heading to Broadway NYC with the d&b Soundscape in hand. But then, after two weeks of successful previews, Broadway went into lockdown.
“Taking Soundscape to America was such an exciting opportunity,” explains Sound Designer, Paul Gatehouse. “I designed a 360 degree system based on the A-Series which really lifts the music and creates an atmosphere that transports the audience into another world. It would have been a really special experience for all involved. It’s a shame the run was cut short but I’m grateful to all the team around Associate Designer, Josh Millican for working hard and ensuring a brilliant two weeks of previews; namely Kate Munchrath at A2, and production engineers Mike Tracey and Dillon Cody.”
Now, after a very brief UK run in December, Six is back in the West End, ready to enchant new audiences, with Gatehouse once again choosing d&b to bring “clarity and punch” to this pop music, sing-along sensation.
To be able to run in a socially distanced way the show has moved from the Arts Theatre to the more spacious Lyric Theatre. “When Kenny Wax, our producer, had the idea of building another production to play a larger theatre in London - to accommodate a socially distanced audience - it was all hands to the pump,” explains Gatehouse. “This latest version of the show is a carry-over from all the uplifts and changes we applied to Broadway.”
Space around the stage was, however, limited and Gatehouse had to rethink his sound design to be able to fit a suitable system around the proscenium. “Up to now we’ve used Y-Series on all previous productions of Six, apart from Broadway where we upscaled the system to a large Soundscape design. As space in the Lyric Theatre is tight around the proscenium, we couldn’t achieve a position for an acceptable sized array, so opted for V7P point sources, which nearly match the same available headroom.
“To convey the punchy pop sound the show is known for it needs a cohesive low-end,” adds Gatehouse. “As there are no advance rigging positions around the apron area in this theatre, we flew our six-unit Y-SUB array onstage, behind the acoustically transparent scenic header. It was touch and go, with all departments really helping out to fit everything in, but it was worth it to achieve the constant low frequency coverage across the whole room, with no power alleys.”
Phil Hurley is Managing Director at Stage Sound Services, who have been supplying equipment for UK shows since the very early days. “We have a long history and affiliation with musical theatre and have been embedded in the West End for decades,” says Hurley, clearly delighted to see this musical return. “In these challenging times the team are going above and beyond to keep music alive and create experiences for audiences that have been deprived of live entertainment during the pandemic. It feels really great to be out there again, helping to make shows like this happen.