Divorced, beheaded and now the Queens are back for a drive-in summer of SIX The Musical in…Church Fenton UPDATED

Six of the best: The West End cast in SIX The Musical in 2019

THEATRE has been hit for six by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, but SIX The Musical has found a way to make a summer comeback as a drive-in theatre experience at a Church Fenton airport.

Leeds East Airport is among 12 locations nationwide picked for Live Nation Entertainment’s Utilita Live From The Drive-In: SIX The Musical, The Live Concert, as the West End and tour casts take to the road in August and September to present the full musical version in the open air.

Church Fenton’s six performances of SIX – how apt – will start at 9pm on August 11; 5pm, August 13; 9pm, August 14, and 5pm and 9pm, August 15 and 16. Tickets for “the first West End musical to perform again after lockdown” will go on sale at 8am on Friday, July 3 at livenation.co.uk/artist/six-the-musical-ticket.

“For the next three months, SIX will be the only stage musical anyone starved of theatre in the country is able to see,” say producers Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes and George Stiles.

Designed to comply with all official guidelines in these Covid-19 times, Utilita Live From The Drive-In will “deliver a drive-in experience boasting concert-quality sound from a live stage with a full state-of-the-art sound system, lighting rig and high-definition LED screens”.

The tour poster for SIX The Musical’s summer season of drive-in shows

This will create an arena or stadium concert feel in a safe drive-in setting adhering to the Government’s social-distancing rules to protect fans, artists, crews and staff at all times.

Customers will arrive by car but then can step outside, picnic and party while they watch the “festival-style” live stage show from their own dedicated area next to their vehicle. Up to 300 vehicles can park up for each show with a maximum of seven people allowed in each one.

Now billed as “Divorced, Beheaded, Drive – Live In Concert”, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss‘s SIX is the “electrifying musical phenomenon that everyone has lost their head over”. First presented by Cambridge University students at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the show has been catapulted into a West End and international hit en route to being named the Musical of the Decade by WhatsOnStage.

From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII take to the mic in SIX to tell their tales, remixing 500 years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st-century girl power where these queens may have green sleeves but their lipstick is rebellious red.

“You’ve seen them in theatres across the world, streamed their album countless times and now you can join the rest of the Queendom for a party and picnic on a Utilita Live From The Drive-In arena stage!” says the drive-in publicity machine.

The joy of SIX: The SIX The Musical cast at the Arts Theatre in London

“This intoxicating Tudor take by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss is a histo-remixed pop-concert musical you won’t forget. The Queens are back, so grab your crowns and your picnic blankets and get down like it’s 1533.”

SIX The Musical and Utilita Live From The Drive-In will link up this summer from August 4 to September 12 for shows at Colesdale Farm, London; Birmingham Resorts World Arena; University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton; Filton Airfield, Bristol; Cheltenham Racecourse; the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh; Leeds East Airport, Church Fenton, near Leeds; Lincoln, Central Docks, Liverpool; The National Bowl, Milton Keynes; the July Course, Newmarket Racecourse, and Teesside International Airport.

Producer Kenny Wax, president of the Society of London Theatre, says: “We are delighted that SIX will spearhead the re-opening of one of London and the UK’s most popular shows. With the industry in crisis, theatres struggling and some even going out of business, this drive-in event offers hope for the future and, equally importantly, jobs for about 50 of our company including cast, musicians, stage managers, technicians and freelancers.

“We are using both our West End and UK touring casts, rehearsing and touring them in a bubble and having them work in teams of six – fortunate for us – as per the government guidance.”

As the Coronavirus pandemic struck, SIX fans were left disappointed when sold-out runs at the Arts Theatre in London and up and down the country on the UK tour had to be cancelled. All those touring dates have been moved to 2021.

Natalie Paris in SIX The Musical in the West End in 2019. Picture: Eleanor Howarth

Any questions before you start the engine?
Which SIX cast members will be performing?
“We are sending the Arts Theatre cast and the UK Tour casts on tour subject to the Queens’ own availability. We can’t guarantee any individual cast members at specific performances. Church Fenton will have the Arts Theatre cast.”

Will we be seeing the full show?
“Yes, the whole show will be performed live from start to finish. The duration is 75 minutes and there is no interval.”

Will the cast be wearing their show costumes?

Is the show being performed as a concert or with full choreography?
“The cast will be performing the show with full choreography.”

 How will we see the stage and the cast if we are parked a long way away?
“Like most concerts, there will be large screens either side of the stage and live show footage played on the screens.”

Wife strife: One of Henry VIII’s queens in SIX The Musical, on tour in 2019. Picture: Johan Persson

Can we sing and dance along?
“We hope you can enjoy yourselves without spoiling the enjoyment of others around you.

Will the music be played live by the musicians?
“Yes, the musicians, our ‘ladies in waiting’, will be playing live”.

Will we be able to “meet and greet” the Queens after the show for autographs and photos?
“Due to current social-distancing guidelines related to Covid-19, sadly the cast will not be available after the performance to meet audience members.”

Did you know?

SIX made its debut as a Cambridge University student production in a 100-seat room at Sweet Venue at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Queen scene: SIX The Musical on its knees on tour in 2019. Picture: Johan Persson

Not only was SIX playing London’s West End and across the UK and Australia when Covid-19 intervened, but also its opening night on Broadway on March 12 was called off when, three hours before showtime, the New York Governor shut down theatreland.

SIX was nominated for five Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, and won the What’s On Stage Award for Best Musical 2020. Songs from the SIX studio album are streamed on average 450,000 times per day, making it the second-highest streaming musical theatre recording in the world after Hamilton.

SIX was written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, with direction by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage; choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille; set design by Emma Bailey; costume design by Gabriella Slade; lighting design by Tim Deiling; sound design by Paul Gatehouse; musical orchestration by Tom Curran; musical supervision by Joe Beighton and musical direction by Katy Richardson.

For a taster of SIX The Musical, go to: youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Ll9qTeUJ_50&fbclid=IwAR0rnG28Gtzt0FQjZERN33thjfpnND0ahuNKD4D_BVskdPILAwCEcTcHOIs&app=desktop