How Six: The Musical began his reign
Seth recounts a conversation with Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow about the fan-favorite musical’s journey from page to world stage.
Hello from beautiful LA
I’m here with James having fancy TV reunions while I take vacations and hang out with my buddy Jack Plotnick. I’m very happy to say that Jack just made a hilarious video based on a classic first scene from the The Exorcist. Please look, but ps it’s not safe for work!
Just a warning that I’m traveling! I’m in Carmel, Indiana at Feinstein’s June 16-17. I made a video with a little hint of my deconstructions to show what I’m going to do. Here is my Barbra Streisand, one of my very first!
And, yes, I do travel, but I’m also still a NYC boy. I’m Hosting a Tony Awards Watch Party on the Upper West Side at the West Side Comedy Club and I just found out they’re going to be streaming it live as well. So, show up in New York to eat, drink, inside Broadway stories and toupee!
Or watch the live broadcast of everywhere and just provide your own food and drink!
Speaking of Tony Awards, I just found this interview I did a few years ago in London Town with the writers of SIX, Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow. They met me in my hotel room (our favorite: the Radisson Blu on Mercer Street at Seven Dials), and unsurprisingly, if you’ve heard the hip side of the score, they’re in their twenties. They told me they had met at Cambridge, their “university”, where he was studying English and she was studying history. Their school had always taken a musical to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but it was usually a classic show that was expensive in terms of rights clearance and not necessarily well attended. The school therefore decided to bring an original show. Now this can often be a huge mistake – I’m still in shock from my fifth grade elementary school where the other class had to do Fat and we did an original show called How a Bill Becomes a Law. I think our audience just recently woke up.
Anyway, Toby and Lucy wanted to write it together and looked for a topic that was in the public domain. First they thought of something like Shakespeare’s Real Housewivesbut then decided to focus on the six wives of Henry VIII.
While Toby was taking a poetry class on Wordsworth, he came up with the idea that it should be a gig by the ex-wives who formed a band called “Six”. Thus, the public would watch a pop concert where each woman tells her story. He and Lucy wrote it together, found a cast among school pupils, and went to Edinburgh for a month (over 20 performances). Lucy said that at some point they were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if a London Fringe producer let us set it up for one night?’ Although they thought about it, they decided, the British way, that it required way too. Isn’t it amazing? They would have loved to have it just in London for one night and now it’s been playing there for years and it’s on Broadway! And, what I mean by British style is that Brits certainly never want to appear carefree or overly optimistic.
I remember talking to Haydn Gwynne who originated the role of the dance teacher in the West End production of Billy Elliot. She heard the show was going to Broadway and wanted to go but of course she couldn’t directlyinterrogate. Well, she finally worked up the courage to tell the director about it and said something like, “When the show goes to Broadway, I guess I’ll never get the chance to because I probably wouldn’t. doesn’t go with it or maybe there’s some probability, but I don’t suppose?” He replied, “Yes.” And she told me that she had asked in such a confused way to the Brit that she literally didn’t know what her answer meant!
Return to SIX. A lot of types of producers came to watch the show unfold, but nothing came of it. Then Toby and Lucy did a series of SIX in Cambridge and a producer who had seen him in Edinburgh, Andy Barnes, came to see him again. Toby also invited George Stiles, who wrote Honk! and additional music for Mary Poppins, who he knew because George had been in a band with Toby’s father “back in the day”. I guess “back then” for Toby is probably the mid 90’s. Well, George came to him to support Toby and he loved it! George then invited Kenny Wax, producer of The piece that goes wrong, at the next performance. Kenny met Lucy and Toby in his office and Toby said reverently that the office was “on Shaftesbury Avenue opposite The Miz,“Which was enough to get them all excited. They had a meeting in an office right next to a hit show!
Kenny told Toby and Lucy he was doing a show at the Arts Theater in London and asked them if they liked doing window displays of SIX on Mondays when his other show was dark. Look out, Toby and Lucy never thought something like this could happen. They thought that to dream of a performance in a marginal theater was to push their hopes too far! Toby told me when they wrote SIX that he thought these songs would be something they could have in their repertoire if they ever wanted permission to attend a rehearsal for a new show and needed to prove they had written music before. Lucy said that while Toby had written for himself before, she had never written anything, so she had no expectations. Of course, now Lucy realizes that they wrote something commercially viable because they were trying to appeal to Edinburgh audiences. These audiences have a lot of choices, so they had to write something that stood out. She also said Edinburgh was a ‘microcosm’ of the world, and I glared at her because I felt her choice of words was a stark reminder that she had gone to Cambridge and I had a degree on the piano.
Anyway, the London showcases went well and the producers decided there should be a tour as well as an album to promote the show before a short London tour. The show started at the Arts Theater in London, which usually only does limited runs, but the theater made an exception and brought it back for an open-ended run! Toby and Lucy were so impressed with what was going on when I first interviewed them that when I mentioned I had heard the song on Spotify they asked me if I had heard it on chance or if someone had suggested it. I told them I heard it randomly and they shouted. Guess they can’t believe it’s airing worldwide. They only started writing it in January 2017!
It was really cool that they knew who I was because they watched my Playbill Obsessed videos. One of their favorites was the one I did with Keala Settle where she moves up the octave.
Then when James and I started stars in the house, we surprised them with Keala. Watch their reaction when she takes their opening number into the octave!
— Seth Rudetsky he/him (@SethRudetsky) June 5, 2022
look stars in the house this week! Tuesday is a group of original actors and then many other people who have done Fat in the 70s coming on the show to talk about the amazing new book Tell me more, tell me more tell stories and perform songs from the show! Wednesday is a 140th anniversary celebration of the Entertainment Community Fund (born The Actors Fund)! Head over to StarsInTheHouse.com and relax!