&Juliet is the brand new musical taking the country by storm. I recently saw the show in Manchester and wasn’t sure what to expect.
So if you’re thinking of travelling down to the Opera House or even the West End to see this awesome jukebox musical, here are my thoughts…
It’s not a standard jukebox musical. It’s Max Martin hits smashed out as part of a madcap adventure that’s really got very little to do with Shakespeare.
In fact, the whole musical kind of pokes fun at itself. It knows the songs are being squeezed in, sometimes tenuously, but it’s hilarious when it comes up. Moments like Oops… I Did It Again are a treat and it’s great to see the characters are in on the joke.
The show pretty much centres around Shakespeare and his wife Anne, as they argue over how to finish off the end of Romeo and Juliet. Their ideas are brought to life by a cast, who are manipulated by the puppet masters of the show. Oliver Tompsett is fantastic as Shakespeare, adding humour and poignancy where he needs to. His stage wife, Anne, is slightly scrappier but still played well by Cassidy Janson.
If you’re expecting it to be a clever retelling of Romero and Juliet, it isn’t. In fact, it’s not really got anything to do with Shakespeare. I guess it touches on the relationship between Shakespeare and his wife a bit, but really it’s not about that. It’s about all people defining their own lives. Defining their own stories. It’s not about gender equality, or diversity. It’s simply a fell-good message about empowerment, and it’s bloody brilliant.
Miriam-Teak Lee is warm and energetic as Juliet, running around Paris breaking hearts and making friendships. She firmly puts the annoyingly handsome Romero (played with impish joy by Jordan Luke Gage) in his place without being overly sassy or “fierce”.
The show will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, humming along to an insane range of amazing tunes. How is it possible for one man to have created so many huge hits?
It’s a quirky kind of concept and I’m not sure how long it’ll last on the West End and if it has the far-reaching likability to make a tour viable, but I really hope it does! My advice would be to catch &Juliet as soon as you can.