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Keeping Up with QUEENS


Paso High TheatrE Company performed their first play of the year choosing to portray Henry VIII in purgatory reliving his life and SIX Wives

“Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived” is a rhyme told to British schoolchildren to help them remember the fates of King Henry VIII’s six wives on his journey for an heir to the Tudor throne. And Paso High Theatre Company was inspired by this journey in their semester play, QUEENS. 

QUEENS follows Henry VIII trapped in purgatory, forced to relive his entire life and actions that (sometimes fatally) disrupted the lives of his six wives. 

The shows took place during the first part of December, 2-4 and 9-11, with the preparations starting less than two weeks after school’s start. 

This particular play wasn’t well known, with director, Marcy Keyser-Goodnow researching throughout the summer.  However, the concept of Henry VIII and his wives was recently reintroduced into modern pop culture with the help of Broadway musical SIX, inspiring the PRHS theatre company to choose QUEENS. 

The "First Love": Ava Lovelace portraying Catherin of Aragon after finding out about Henry's wish to divorce her
Breakaway: Jordan Armer running after Henry after being told of her execution
Clutching my heart: Ella Gomez, playing Jane Seymour, holding her necklace after describing her death after the birth of their son
The "Ugly" Queen: Sky Collins playing Anne of Cleves the wife who was only married for sixth months
Beheaded: Divy Emmons crying in despair after her fate is decided for adultery
I'm a Survivor: Amani Arellano putting on the necklace as a symbol for being the last one in chains by Henry
Illegitimate Queen: Cadence Eastep talking about Elizabeth I life and how Henry's decisions and wives impacted her
Your own personal Hell: The fools keeping Henry back after he tries to escape his own purgatory for not renouncing his sins


I love the whole process of researching and eveloping the character. It was super Interesting to try and see the show through his eyes and express what I think his opinions would be.

Caedom Bigelow
Henry VIII

Over 30 high school actors made up this cast, with the six wives played by: Ava Lovelace (Catherine of Aragon), Jordan Armer (Anne Bolyen), Ella Gomez (Jane Seymour), Sky Collins (Anne of Cleves), Divy Emmons (Katherine Howard), and Amani Arellano (Catherine Parr). 

Aside from the ladies  who played the wives, other leading actors included the four actors who followed the transition of Henry’s life in order to more accurately showcase the journey Ash Moore played young Henry, Shane Mullinix who played middle-aged Henry, Javier Arroyo played old Henry, and Cademon Bigelow played trapped Henry. The technical theater crew was made up of almost 40, including lights, sound, costumes, stage crew, and more.

With QUEENS being a historical depiction of the end of the Tudor dynasty the cast and crew made it part of their personal mission to make this one of the best plays. 

“I would say it [QUEENS] felt surreal in the sense that it portrayed a more ‘alternative’, abstract kind of character for the times… I wanted my fool character to take that modern attitude into the play.” Eric Soto said, who played one of the four fools that surrounded Henry. Soto stated that understanding the past more, or to learn more about history, was part of his own intention when delivering his lines. 

Bigelow (trapped Henry) also said that it was very stressful to play such a big historical figure who was not always the best person, but helped to grow himself with the character. Seeing it through the eyes of the king, let Bigelow begin to think of the ways that Henry would likely react to certain situations presented.

The amount of time that the company put in were “more hours than I could possibly count”, Arellano said, staying very late for rehearsals and complete run-throughs, with even more time spent in class trying to perfect the show. The cast spent time researching their characters beforehand as well.

The play was a success for PHTC, with closing night being their highest grossing, and for many senior members of the cast, this was their last non-musical play at PRHS. 

More coverage regarding the spring musical to come.

You’ve brought the Devil into our matrimonial bed
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of AragonAva Lovelace
Oh Lord, my time is nigh!
Anne Bolyen
Anne BolyenJordan Armer
Oh Henry, I fought for you, I became the personification of a quiet, obedient, and kind wife. But you did not protect me
Jane Seymour
Jane SeymourElla Gomez
Is her blood on my hands?
Anne of Cleves
Anne of ClevesSky Collins
Henry, Henry Please!
Katherine Howard
Katherine HowardDivy Emmons
My beautiful baby girl, so loved, so wanted!
Catherine Parr
Catherine ParrAmani Arellano
Alas my love you do me wrong to cast me off discourteously for I have loved you well and long. Delighting in your company
Henry VIII
Henry VIIICademon Bigelow

Photos by: Kayla Degnan and Connor Rocha

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Kayla Degnan, Sports Co-Director
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