A scene from SIX: The Musical. Photo by Idil Sukan, Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Before SIX: The Musical Hits Broadway, It's Playing at Sea

Just last week, SIX: The Musicala new show, about the six wives of Henry VIII, that's seen wild success in the UK—announced it's officially coming to Broadway. Yes, it really is time for a pop-infused musical that delivers the skinny on the women whose fates read bluntly as: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

But before previews start February 13, 2020, SIX is continuing its out-of-town tryouts with a surprising twist: It will play aboard several Norwegian Cruise Line ships, beginning with the Norwegian Bliss September 1.


It's an unexpected licensing move for musical theater, since shows at sea are usually a cruise line's own creations, or surefire hits, like Jersey Boys, that are already proven crowd-pleasers on the Great White Way.

While it may be unprecedented to snag a show before its Broadway debut, NCL's move further solidifies that the cruise industry is betting big on dance. Earlier this year, two major cruise lines announced new entertainment offerings for guests: Celebrity Cruises partnered with American Ballet Theatre, and Virgin Voyages is developing work by the likes of Randy Weiner and Sam Pinkleton. Perhaps SIX is NCL's answer to Celebrity and Virgin upping the ante.

And it might be just the right move.

SIX has exploded as the little show that could: After being dreamed up by two Cambridge University seniors, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the musical premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and swiftly made its way to the West End the following year. It earned five Olivier nominations, including Best Musical and Best Choreography, by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. And it's already appeared in Chicago, and starting August 21, it will sweep through Cambridge, Massachusetts (at American Repertory Theater); Edmonton, Canada; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Sydney, Australia, before it arrives on Broadway.

Seems like these queens are aiming for world domination at land and sea alike.

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Sometimes you're thrown a big opportunity mid-season—but aren't always given all the rehearsal you need to fully prep for it. At Houston Ballet, for instance, there are often 12 casts of Sugar Plum, according to ballet master Amy Fote. That means some dancers might only get one full run before performing the role.

But not all of the preparation happens in the studio. For aerobically demanding choreography, dancers need to put in their own overtime to build the necessary stamina. Red flags for Fote are when footwork loses its precision and line, and movement looks less efficient and more labored—these are not necessarily signs of technical deficiencies, but often point to the need to increase cardiovascular fitness. "You have to do your homework and cross-train," she says.

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