Is ‘& Juliet’ a musical? Is ‘& Juliet’ a pop extravaganza? Is ‘& Juliet’ a musical pop extravaganza? Simple answer: yes, to all three!!
This bright, colourful and loud jukebox celebration of 90’s pop music has been lighting up the West End for just over two years now and I see no reason for it to depart any time soon. Using well-known pop songs written or produced by the prolific Swedish songwriter Max Martin, it tells a ‘what if’ story of life after the apparent double suicide of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a fun and engaging storyline and the songs fit seamlessly into the narrative.
There’s something included in the show for any fan of recent pop music – Britney, the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Ariana, Katy Perry, Pink… even Bon Jovi and Celine Dion get a look in! Max Martin’s huge catalogue of songs offers a multitude of options that are used to great effect to push the show along and give the audience endless reasons to clap and sing along. I absolutely loved this show!
Some of the cast will be changing in April 2022, but the current cast has pretty much all remained the same since the show opened in 2019. Taking the reins as the eponymous Juliet is the magnificent Miriam-Teak Lee. Her vocals soar throughout the show – not least of all during an explosive rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ – sung from a platform rising from the stage. She deservedly won the Olivier award in 2020 for Best Actress in a musical. Another Olivier award winner for this show was David Bedella, who gives a hilarious performance with amazing vocals again playing the Lance (an unruly and philandering father!).
Playing the writer Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway are West End royalty Oliver Thompsett and Cassidy Janssen (another Olivier winner!). Their chemistry on stage exudes fun which is exactly what the audience wants from this show! My personal favourite performance came from Alex Thomas Smith as Juliet’s best friend May, telling a heart-enriching sub-story about finding themselves and finding love… I can admit to shedding a tear during their heart-wrenching version of Britney’s ‘I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ – beautiful. Special mention is also needed for Jordan Luke Gage as Romeo… swaggering around the stage, looking beautiful comes easily to this boy (and what a voice!). From April 2022 the role of Nurse will be played by the Broadway star Keala Settle (most famous for singing the hit ‘This IS Me’ in The Greatest Showman) – a good reason to revisit this show.
As I said earlier, this show is all about being bright, brash and colourful… the lighting and stage sets are unmissable and in your face for all the right reasons. It’s almost more akin to a pop concert sometimes (there’s even a mini boyband gig in the second Act!) but it never loses the relevance of the storyline. There are lots of great staging effects used including platforms, revolves, and trapdoors – and the audience is positively encouraged to get involved and have the best time they can. It’s infectious!
I definitely recommend you go see this fun frolic of a show… it doesn’t require a degree to enjoy it, it just requires a smile and a love of all things pop!