top of page

Lights of Broadway: & Juliet




& Juliet

Synopsis: The Olivier Award-winning original musical & Juliet will have its highly anticipated Broadway premiere this fall. With a book by David West Read, the Emmy Award-winning writer from “Schitt’s Creek,” music from legendary five-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Max Martin, direction by Luke Sheppard and choreography by Emmy Award-winner Jennifer Weber, & Juliet uses some of the most beloved pop songs of the last three decades to tell a multi-generational story of self-discovery, empowerment and love.



Review:


Shakespeare, one of the most prolific playwrights of all time penned Romeo & Juliet in 1597. A tragic play about two star-crossed lovers ending in both of them dead. & Juliet, premiering in 2019, tells us the story of what would have happened if when Juliet woke up, she didn’t kill herself. With a book by David West Read, one of the writers of Schitt’s Creek, and music and lyrics by one of the most prolific pop music writers, Max Martin (he’s kinda like the Shakespeare of modern pop music), what you have is a comedic and diverse smash on stage.

In this version as William Shakespeare’s wife challenges Will to replace Romeo as the centralizing figure, they flush out Juliet (portrayed by Lorna Courtney) to meet her gender-neutral best friend May (portrayed by Matt Raffy the understudy when I saw it), her other best friend April, who is also William Shakespeare's Wife Anne Hathaway (portrayed by Betsy Wolfe), and we explore the story of Angelique the nurse (portrayed by Melanie La Barrie). The 4 decide to ditch Verona and flee to Paris to escape Juliet’s parents sending her to a nunnery. About halfway through as William Shakespeare (portrayed by Stark Sands) and his wife have a disagreement, the quill breaks and the story becomes uncontrollable.


Under the direction of Luke Sheppard, the actors on stage truly excelled in building complex relationships akin to Shakespeare's writing. In particular, the complex love triangle between May, Juliet, and Francois (portrayed by Philippe Arroyo) was well executed. Very few moments in the show had a joke that didn’t work or land right because of how the character’s chemistry with each other was flushed out. A real shining star and contender for the Tony would be the choreography by Jennifer Webber. Webber was able to mix in various classic pop and hip-hop dances while simultaneously making it feel fresh and modern as if it was the first time seeing it. Paloma Young’s costuming was a conglomeration of both Shakespearean garb and modern-day attire. This made for interesting and unique costumes that helped blend the fact it was Shakespeare with a modern storytelling twist.


The biggest battle was for Bill Sherman, the music supervisor, who had the monumental task of blending in Max Martin’s lengthy discography of work attached to hundreds of different artists. As with jukebox musicals, sometimes this led to well-executed moments, May singing “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” after they are misgendered and acknowledging they won’t find love or “It’s My Life” after Romeo is brought back from the dead were two musical highlights. However, “Teenage Dream/Break Free” after two of the characters engaged in intercourse felt shoehorned in the story and “Problem/Can’t Feel My Face” was difficult to understand with the competing songs on top of each other.

Overall, & Juliet was a rip-roaring good time. It was sweet, it was hysterical, and most importantly of a jukebox musical, it was fun. This show will be a major contender for the Tony awards and will most likely run for a longer period.


I would give & Juliet a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars due to some slight missteps with the musical supervision.


***************************************************

Follow our Entertainment Pundit:

Comments


bottom of page