Having seen this earlier this year and not reviewing it, I thought it time I gave my reviewing fingers a go.
If you didn’t know;
& Juliet is the 2019 coming-of-age stage musical featuring the music of Swedish pop songwriter Max Martin, with a book by David West Read (Schitt’s Creek).
This is where I don’t want to say any further about the plot, as you may think you know, but trust me you don’t.
Max Martin’s songs are neatly interwoven into this tale of a “what if” scenario, where Juliet does not die at the end of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
You’ll be watching, listening, and thinking “who sung this originally”. Just me? Okay, just me.
The script by David West Reid is perfectly pitched and interweaves the songs quite nicely. The pace feels familiar (as does the music), and you won’t feel the songs are shoehorned into the story as can sometimes happen with other jukebox musicals. Okay, this isn’t Mamma Mia, but it feels fresh and fun and is the perfect accompaniment to a good night out – do try and not sing along though as that can be a bit annoying!
As I’ve said I’ve seen this earlier this year with Keala Settle as Angelique (just amazing), and I think apart from a few other cast changes on the evening, the cast was the same.
Miriam-Teak Lee as Juliet is amazing, as is Cassidy Janson as Anne Hathaway – her version of Celine Dion’s “That’s the way it is”, is probably up there as my favourite Celine cover! There was a little bit of Fenella Fielding in her portrayal of Will Shakespeare’s wife – together with Karen Walker from Will & Grace! Just loved it. Oliver Tompsett as William Shakespeare is sublime and fun to watch in his other guises. You maybe getting the idea I liked this production, if you haven’t so far, we can’t really be friends, because I loved it!
My only concern is the shelf life of the music. Some of the songs are over 20 years old, and as anyone in radio knows, some songs burn out with being overplayed. & Juliet is finishing in the West End in March 2023, so that’s a good time to be able to rest it in it’s current guise (specially since the Shaftesbury Theatre will be undergoing a transformation), but I’m also guessing a UK tour will be on the cards. The Broadway version started on October 28th 2022, and I’m sure it’ll do amazingly across the pond, and in the UK a tour will bring new life (and fans) into this little piece of musical history.
Before I end, one thing of note – the story maybe called & Juliet, but like another musical named after a historical person (rhymes with Samilton), maybe this story too isn’t actually about the one female protagonist?
Rating, Two be, or not two be….? No – 9 / 10