The Olivier and Tony award-winning musical has been playing to standing ovations across the world since 2017. Nearly six (!) years later, with a brand new West End cast, can it possibly still live up to the hype? Quick answer: yes. Henry VIII’s portrait-swiping on potential wifeys still rings true as a 500-year precursor to Tinder, and the references to “history” versus “herstory” are still strikingly prescient.
To the show’s credit, it’s still truly unlike anything else on the West End. Six sassy, finger-clicking, body-popping queens just about squeeze onto the tiny stage of the Vaudeville theatre stage with their hand-held microphones, cramped further by a four-piece backing band, and there they all stay, for eighty minutes. There is no set, just dazzling light design (Tim Deiling) that makes the most of the tight space (Emma Bailey).
The new cast are sensational, and they have to be, given the requirement for eighty minutes of nonstop energy and vocal riffing. It is impossible to take your eyes off Anna of Cleves (Dionne Ward-Anderson), and impossible to believe this is Ward-Anderson’s West End professional debut.
There’s something else unique about this show’s place on the West End, and that’s its screaming, hyped-up audience. Six years on, a core chunk of the audience are already merch-clad fans, coming back to party like it’s 1499. Megafans and newcomers alike will love the new cast.
Booking until October 2023 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London.