& Juliet – The New Cast!
I am going to declare it from the start….I am now an & Juliet stan! Now that this is out in the open I can tell you why!!
& Juliet looks at the story of Juliet & Romeo through the eyes of William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway, When Ann wants to write a strong female character into Shakespeare’s play the traditional tale gets turned on its head and we look at what would happen if Juliet didn’t die, but instead went to Paris with her friends Mae and April and her Nurse. This story is all told to the backdrop of Max Martin’s pop anthems.
It isn’t until you see this show that you realise just how many huge hits Max Martin has written, numerous Backstreet Boy and Britney Spears songs feature in & Juliet as well as ‘Domino,’ ‘Sine You’ve Been Gone,’ ‘Roar,’ and ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling.’ These pop songs are all brilliant songs in their own right but sung by this cast within the show it really elevates them to a new level. Whilst many of the songs were written over a decade ago they all felt very fresh thanks to new arrangements and also choreography by Jennifer Webber that was anything but dated. This brilliance of the original song and the nostalgia wave it gave the audience, combined with the new take on the music meant that music sits perfectly with todays audience.
The book by David West Read is witty and full of clever one liners brimming with girl power without being preachy. So many lines I have to restrain myself from fist pumping the air but many of them get a round of applause in their own right. The show itself doesn’t take itself too seriously and many of the songs are started with the performers tongue firmly in their cheek but the level of talent on the stage combined with the production values makes sure that it doesn’t slip into panto territory. I not only enjoyed the twist on Juliet’s story but the journey that Mae goes on and watching the relationship between Shakespeare and Anne.
& Juliet has just had the class of 2022 join them and this cast really know how to get the party started. Joining the cast was Tom Francis as Romeo and he had the part down brilliantly. Rather than coming across as one of literacy’s most romantic men he convinced the audience to forget all they knew and was someone that I would tell a friend to avoid romantic entanglement with, but still managed to do that oozing charm and charisma, as well as a great poppy/musical theatre voice. Also joining the cast was Keala Settle from the Greatest Showman fame. She played Juliet’s nurse who ends up finding her ex in Paris, in the form of Juliet’s new love interests father! She has some great comedy lines which were delivered brilliantly as well as her voice being stunning in all of her numbers, I only wish that she was given more opportunity to really sing in this show.
Oliver Tompsett and Cassidy Janson continue in the roles of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway and they continue to be on top form. Janson sent shivers down my spine with her rendition of ‘That’s The Way It Is’ and who knew Tompsett singing Backstreet Boys was the thing my life was missing. Janson and Thompsett work brilliantly together, sliding from narrators and back into Juliet’s story with huge irony and even bigger fun.
Miriam-Teak Lee played Juliet with a huge amount of charm and a sparkle in her eye that meant that even when she was flip flopping about which guy to choose the audience couldn’t help but root for her to succeed. Finally Alex Thomas-Smith played Mae whose combination of vulnerability and pure vocals makes them a stand out in a cast of stars already.
My final observations are about the ascetics of the show and they are simply stunning. The costumes all have Tudor influences but are brought up to date with modern colours, converse shoes and leather jackets. The set design by Soutra Gilmour not only left me gasping in places but it really played on many of the tongue in cheek moments perfectly. The music, book, costumes and set really were thought about as one seamless cohesive package and this really showed.
& Juliet ticks all the boxes for a brilliant night at the theatre, songs that make you want to listen to the cast recording, a plot that is witty, fun and relevant, a cast packed full of talent and charisma, a set and costumes that enhance all of the above. What more could you ask for from a night out at the theatre?
To find out more about the show and to book tickets to can visit their website here.