Knaresborough actress Lou Henry flicks the ‘SIX! switch’ as she plays Catherine Howard on her return to Grand Opera House

Heading for a beheading: Lou Henry as Catherine Howard in SIX! The Musical. Picture: Pamela Raith

LOU Henry will be giving SIX of the best at the Grand Opera House from Tuesday, returning to the York stage where she made her professional debut as Snow White in December 2019.

This time, the Grand Opera House is but one stop on a 15-month tour in the role of Catherine Howard in SIX The Musical, the all-female show for the millennial age that reactivates the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII in modern mode, with attitude.

Call it gig theatre, call it a pop concert, wherein the Queens tell their story in song in chronological order to decide who suffered most at Henry’s hands once he put a ring on that wedding finger.

Billed as “York’s own” when picked to play a black-wigged Snow White in Three Bears Productions’ Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Knaresborough-raised Louise now performs as Lou Henry, playing wife number five in Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s musical since April 25.

Lou’s Catherine Howard was Queen Consort from 1540 to 1541, beheaded at the Tower of London on February 13 1542, still only in her 18th year. Henry had called her his “rose without a thorn”, but the history books ascribe to her a scandalous past and present, one that led to her being found guilty of adultery.

“And ever since I was a child, I’d make the boys go wild,” she brags in All You Wanna Do, but later adds: “With Henry, it isn’t easy, his temper’s short and his mates are sleazy.”

“I think she’s misunderstood,” says Lou. “By the time she sings her song, she undercuts everyone’s expectations because there’s a darker side to what she experiences, which is so sad and harrowing, though it’s also a really fun act as a role, not just a big belting moment in song, but there’s loads to act out.

“I have mums and lots of the female members of the audience coming up afterwards and saying, ‘I feel so sad at the end of the song because it’s such a terrible experience she goes through.”

Lou feels the pressure to “tell the story right”. “Already we’ve done more than 70 shows, so it feels more settled now. Catherine’s song is really long – seven minutes of singing; it’s ridiculous! – but she’s giving it everything,” she says.

SIX The Musical is playing to packed houses wherever it goes, whether York this week or Leeds Grand Theatre in early August, and the Grand Opera House has even added standing tickets for the first time, such has been the demand to see the “Spouse Girls musical” on its return to York only six months after its first run here.

“It absolutely is the show of the moment,” says Lou. “It feels very current and important in its subject matter, and the reason it sells so well is the message behind it as much as the pop concert format.

“That’s what attracts people in the first place and keeps them coming. Yes, it’s a pop concert but it turns the mirror round on the audience and says it’s not right that women keep being treated like this.”

Performing in such a show is an 80-minute adrenaline rush, but “we try to keep ourselves really calm before the start, as it can be very excitable in the auditorium, even though there’s a harpsichord playing as if it’s just a Tudor piece,” says Lou.

“But then we have the ‘SIX switch’, where we say we’ve got each other’s backs and what we want out of the show that night. Hit the Six switch, and we tell our story, undercutting historical expectations and people’s expectations of what’s coming.

“Because it’s so interactive, encouraging involvement, you’ll see people singing along or dancing – you can see they’re so invested in it – so I’ll take a deep breath and think, ‘I’ve still got a job to do here’!”

What has Lou learned after those 70-plus performances? “I was under the preconception that it was just a poppy concert but now I really have something to say [through Catherine Howard], and we’re making points in this really well-oiled machine, which is really special, while interacting with each other through the experience of touring, with little changes that keep it interesting for ourselves on stage.”

Joining Lou’s Katherine are Nicole Louise Lewis’s Catherine of Aragon, Laura Dawn Pyatt’s Anne Boleyn, Erin Caldwell’s Jane Seymour, Kenedy Small’s Anna of Cleves and Aoife Haakenson’s Catherine Parr, backed by the all-female band The Ladies in Waiting. 

SIX! The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, June 27 to July 2; Tuesday to Thursday, 8pm sold out; Friday, 6pm, 8.30pm, sold out; Saturday, 4pm, 8pm, limited availability; Sunday, 2pm, sold out. Box office:

Also Leeds Grand Theatre, August 1 to 6, 8pm, Tuesday to Saturday, plus 5pm, Friday and Saturday; 2pm, Sunday. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or

Hitting it for Six: The cast on a 15-month tour

SIX The Musical: the back story

SIX follows the six wives of Henry VIII as they take to the mic to tell their own personal tales, remixing 500 years of historical heartbreak into an 80-minute  celebration of 21st century girl power.

Since its early days as a student production in a 100-seat room at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s pop concert/musical has become a global phenomenon.

On the international stage, SIX has productions playing on Broadway at the Lena Horne Theatre, New York, and two concurrent North American tours, including a seven-week run in Las Vegas, with autumn runs announced for Canada and the Netherlands (featuring the UK tour cast from September 20).

SIX has played an Australian tour too. The South Korean production ran at the Shinhan Card Artium, Seoul, from March 17 to June 25, to be followed by July 1 and 2 performances at the Sejong Centre for the Performing Arts in Sejong.

On home turf, the London production continues its reign in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre (its third royal residence), while the UK and Ireland tour continues to break box office records, booking through to 2024.

Winner of 26 major international awards, including the 2022 Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Costume Design on Broadway; double Whatsonstage Award for Best West End Show for 2022 and 2023 and 2020 BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical. Nominated for five Olivier awards, including Best New Musical.

More than 500 million streams and three billion views of Marlow and Moss’s songs on TikTok. Original studio album of SIX turned gold in 2021; Broadway album SIX – Live On Opening Night was nominated for a Grammy Award.

More Things To Do in York and beyond with summer in full bloom. Hutch’s List No. 26 for 2023, courtesy of The Press, York

Vote Nature: York artist Jade Blood with her Community Notice Board installation for Bloom in the Artists Gallery behind York Art Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

FLOWER power indoors and out, musicals with a twist, trees and romantic entanglements hark the arrival of Charles Hutchinson’s new summer of love.

Garden of delights: Bloom at York Art Gallery, on display until October 8

FLOWERS, plant life and gardens have fascinated and inspired generations of artists. Cultivated by York Art Gallery curator of fine art Becky Gee, the Bloom display brings together more than 100 botanical artworks from York Art Gallery’s collection, alongside key loans, to explore the importance of nature and green spaces for enjoyment, creativity and wellbeing and highlight the gallery’s relationship with the neighbouring Museum Gardens, set up by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1828. Look out for York artist Jade Blood’s installations too.

Banjo player Curt Eller: Bringing his band to the Arts Barge on July 1

Down by the river: The Arts Barge presents Dylan Earl, on Selby Tony, Foss Basin, York, tonight, 7pm; Curtis Eller’s American Circus, July 1, 7pm

ARKANSAS singer Dylan Earl returns to the Arts Barge for a headline gig after his Arts Barge Hoodang appearance last year. Likewise, Curtis Eller’s American Circus show heads back to the barge, this time with full band in tow for a night of banjo-driven rock’n’roll. Box office:

SIX of the best: The Queens giving Harry the hurry up. Picture: Pamela Raith

Quick return of the week: SIX The Musical at Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Sunday; also Leeds Grand Theatre, August 1 to 6

WAS it only last October that Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s Spouse Girls musical/pop concert first wowed York? Its return has all but sold out again as the dancing queens with attitude tell their story in song in chronological order to decide who suffered most at Henry VIII’s hands once he put a ring on that wedding finger.

Of York interest, Knaresborough-raised Lou Henry returns to the stage where she made her professional debut in the 2019-2020 pantomime as Snow White. This time she plays the apparently not-so-squeaky-clean Catherine Howard, short-lived wife number five. Box office (probably for frustration only):; Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or

Mark Simmonds, Monica Frost, Emma Dickinson and Richard Bayton (at the wheel) in rehearsal for York Light Opera Company’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

In pursuit of love: York Light Opera Company in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

RIOTOUS, rude and relevant, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’ off-Broadway musical revue is directed by York Light’s Neil Wood in its 2018 updated revamp in a witty look at how we love, date and handle relationships.

Guiding love’s path through a series of comedic and poignant vignettes will be Richard Bayton, Emma Dickinson, Monica Frost, Emily Hardy, James Horsman, Sanna Jeppsson and Mark Simmonds. Shocks and surprises incoming, as love lives are reflected in art, up close and personal. Box office:

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company cast members rehearsing Musicals In The Multiverse

Expect the unexpected: Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Musicals In The Multiverse, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Thursday and Friday, 7.30pm

IN a fundraiser for the JoRo, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company transports you into a multiverse full of musical theatre favourites with a twist. Guided by director Helen Spencer, enter a parallel universe where familiar songs have their traditional renditions turned on their heads in swaps of gender, major to minor keys, musical styles and eras. Box office: 01904 501935 or

Acoustic gig of the week: An Evening With Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon & Oscar, Harrogate Theatre, Thursday, 7.30pm

OCEAN Colour Scene vocalist Simon Fowler and drummer Oscar Harrison present an intimate acoustic performance of their big hits and anthems, from The Riverboat Song, The Circle and Traveller’s Tune to Hundred Mile High City and The Day We Caught The Train.

“Our acoustic shows are a real tonic: a great chance to look the audience in the eye and interact with them on a more personal basis than ever before,” says Fowler. Dexys Midnight Runners founder member Pete Williams supports. Box office: 01423 502116 or

Murray Watts: His play Mr Darwin’s Tree will be performed at Stillington Mill

Science meets art: Mr Darwin’s Tree, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 1, 7.30pm

COMMISSIONED for Charles Darwin’s bicentenary and premiered at Westminster Abbey, Riding Lights luminary Murray Watts’s 75-minute play has since been staged in China, South Korea, and throughout the United States. Now Stillington Mill beckons.

Watts directs film, television and theatre actor Andrew Harrison – last seen at Stilllington in Fire From Heaven last summer – in a study of the relationship between the agnostic Darwin and his Christian wife Emma that explores science, faith, family, love and destiny. Box office:

Saxophonist Snake Davis: Having a blast at Cop’ Carnival’s Jazz Night

Community event of the week: Cop’ Carnival Day, Copmanthorpe Recreation Centre, Barons Crescent, Copmanthorpe, York, July 1, 11.30am to 7pm

COP’ Carnival Day returns in its 53rd year for a day of dance troops, bands (including Miles And The Chain Gang), traditional games and attractions. Tickets are on sale at and on the day.

The carnival week runs from June 27 to July 1, featuring a jazz night with saxophonist Snake Davis on Tuesday (7.45pm); a wine-tasting quiz on Wednesday (7.30pm, sold out) and a comedy night with Justin Moorhouse, Tal Davies, Roger Monkhouse and host Alex Boardman on Thursday (8pm). Copmanthorpe Methodist Church houses the carnival exhibition by 30 artists from today to July 1.

Jack Whitehall; Chance to Settle Down at York Barbican

Not many tickets left: Jack Whitehall: Settle Down, York Barbican, July 12, 6.30pm

SETTLE Down is comedian, actor, writer and presenter Jack Whitehall’s “most personal show to date”, driven by material aplenty focused on the big changes in his life.  

“It’s about my struggle to settle down gracefully,” says Londoner Whitehall, 34. “I’ve got a long-term partner, a ridiculous dog and am now hurtling towards middle aged without a clue. It’s about a foppish man-child’s cack-handed attempt at adulting!” Note the early start time; no late night for this all-work-and-no-play Jack! Box office: