Framed as a live concert, the wives of King Henry VIII receive the opportunity to air their grievances with their husband in stellar solo tracks. Each queen has a distinct sound to their number, inspired by some of the most iconic women in the music industry.
The composers of
, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, channeled a different singer in every character, giving a unique sound to each ballad. In an interview with
The Washington Post
, the current touring production's lead actors revealed which pop stars they channel to get in character.
Khaila Wilcoxon plays Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife, who hypes up the audience with her march anthem, "No Way." The track serves as
a tribute to Beyonce
in her "Lemonade" era, but Wilcoxon adds a spin of her own to honor Latina recording artists, a tie-in to Catherine's Spanish roots.
As Wilcoxon explained:
"I try to give a little Rosalia in there, and I give a little Cardi B and I give a little Shakira. So I'm trying to also pay homage to the Spanish heritage in telling the story of Catherine of Aragon, because it's super important to me and to every little girl that's going to watch the show and see themselves on that stage."
Portraying a historical figure is no easy task, especially when paired with a contemporary icon to incorporate. The stars of
poured through books and documentaries to learn everything available about their royal counterparts, but Wilcoxon took preparations a step further by writing her own rap to the tune of "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" about her queen's dilemma.
Storm Lever, who plays Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, made a playlist of songs by female artists that inspire her performance. The list includes "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne, Demi Lovato's "Confident" and Christina Aguilera's "Fighter." However, the artists that inspire her the most are Miley Cyrus and
, as she elaborated,
"Those are two artists that, when they first broke onto the scene, they were perceived as innocent. Then, as societal pressures got put on them, you see that they had this revolution. They also are cutting-edge artists that push the boundaries, which absolutely was Anne Boleyn as a ruler."
Olivia Donalson (Anna of Cleves) is the only member of the cast who was a fan of
before auditioning, giving her insight into the performance of her Broadway predecessor, Brittney Mack. Instead of mimicking Mack's portrayal of Henry's fourth wife, Donalson evoked a figure even Marlow and Moss did not consider.
Performing the self-love anthem, "Get Down," Donalson channels the artist most known for her mantra of body positivity and acceptance, Lizzo. She explained the decision behind the change, saying: "I think it was written to be Nicki Minaj and Cardi B and Rihanna, but I'm giving Lizzo vibes one hundred percent. There's a lot of joy in my performance, and just a lot of celebration in who I am as a person through Lizzo."
Other queens draw their inspiration from Britney Spears and Ariana Grande, but there are still homages for the older audience members with Celine Dion-inspired songs.
appeals largely to a younger demographic, continuing the legacy left by
of sparking an interest in history among younger audiences, as Didi Romero (Katherine Howard) explains.
"It's not your typical musical," Romero said. "It's a very much updated, Gen Z-type show -- but at the same time, it isn't because it's literally history. It's a very weird but refreshing mix."