Power Play: Theater Productions Highlighting Women of History

Six the Musical
Six the Musical; photo by Liz Lauren.

From Ann Richards to Princess Diana to the Six wives of Henry VIII, these three productions highlight famous women of history

ANN play at ZACH Theatre Austin
Director Benjamin Endsley Klein, Star Libby Villari, Writer Holland Taylor, and Stage Manager Robert Tolaro. Photo by ZACH.

ANN by Holland Taylor

Tough as nails. Funny as hell. ANN is an intimate, no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary late Governor of Texas. This inspiring and hilarious play brings us face to face with a complex, colorful, and captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed. Written and originally performed by Emmy Award-winner Holland Taylor, ANN takes a revealing look at the impassioned woman who enriched the lives of her followers, friends, and family.

At ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas, Libby Villari brings Ann Richards to life this summer in Holland Taylor’s Broadway hit. Original Broadway Director Benjamin Endsley Klein returns with most of the Lincoln Center Broadway creative team to resurrect this larger-than-life character in Austin. Villari is best known for her role as Mayor Lucy Rodell on the hit TV show Friday Night Lights, which was filmed in Texas. ANN will play at ZACH through September 8, 2019.

“I do not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house.’ I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone’.” – Ann Richards

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The first North American production of “Six,” a British pop musical about the guess-how-many wives of Henry VIII, is now running at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The production will make stops in Massachusetts, Alberta and Minnesota before arriving on Broadway in New York early next year.

“For centuries, the wives of England’s King Henry VIII have been remembered largely for the ways their marriages came to an end,” writes Michael Paulson in The New York Times. “Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived. Now comes a pair of young British theater-makers, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, with a revisionist take on those sorry stories: ‘Six,’ a pop musical in which each woman gets, at least for a few minutes, to reframe her fame.”

Featuring an all-female cast and an all-female band, “Six” is structured as a singing competition with the women’s miserable marriages as the theme. The show is directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage. Already a hit in London’s West End, the  Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s 12-week run sold out and broke box-office records. It was so popular, in fact, that the theater had to add seating capacity.

“Princess Diana: the Musical” Hits Theaters in the U.S.

July 29th was the 38th anniversary of Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles, and was a poignant reminder of how beloved “Princess Di” was in life — and remains in death. Award-winning singer-songwriter Karen Sokolof Javitch has written “Princess Diana: the Musical” to spotlight Di’s relationship with Prince Charles, focusing on their courtship, marriage and divorce.

“The marriage is still the most watched royal wedding in history,” notes Javitch. “Millions still remember how Princess Diana omitted the word ‘obey’ for the first time ever in a royal wedding, and so began a reverence for this maverick royal.”

For this touching, one-of-a-kind musical, Javitch wrote all 32 of the songs, arranged by Chuck Penington of Mannheim Steamroller, which reflect Diana’s transition from being an unknown 19-year old to becoming one of the most famous women in the world. Not surprisingly, the musical is gaining in popularity and has been produced by theater groups and troupes in multiple cities across the United States.

Musical theater buffs may listen to one of the songs from the show, “There Was a Time,” that was the main song to “Princess Diana: The Musical,” here and the full array of songs may be accessed on Javitch’s web site here.

Especially this month, Javitch’s “Princess Diana: the Musical” represents one phenomenon celebrating another—a noble endeavor indeed.

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