This show has been following me around since I saw the first announcement ahead of its initial run. However, the soundtrack did not immediately convince me to see it as, while the voices were great, I found it difficult to listen to without narrative context. I normally do not mind listening to the soundtrack first and trying to gauge the story from this, but as the individual songs each had their own contexts outside of the show it was exceedingly difficult to get past that. When I went down to London, initially for the week of London Book Fair, at the end of February I was lucky enough to catch & Juliet on my first night using TodayTix for a £15 ticket. Also, in the couple of days between booking and my visit the show was nominated for nine Olivier Awards and many WhatsOnStage Awards so you could say I was expecting a good time!
& Juliet is the hilarious and fun-loving new West End musical that asks: what if Juliet’s famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate? This is Juliet’s story now. So don’t tell her how it ends…
Soaring with pop anthems including …Baby One More Time, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), Love Me Like You Do and Can’t Feel My Face, & Juliet is a riotous blast of fun and glorious music that proves when it comes to love, there’s always life after Romeo… (& Juliet Website)
Following an electrifying year in the original London cast of Hamilton, Miriam Teak-Lee steps up in & Juliet to leading lady and easily demonstrates that she is a force to be reckoned with. The power behind her voice will blow you away whereas her spunky attitude captures Juliet as an easily relatable young-adult hanging out with her friends on their first road trip… and she just happens to get engaged a couple times along the way. Her first number, however, provides a standout moment. The depth of emotion, whilst giving a taste of the belting to come, in this moment of grief is incredibly touching and, alongside the historically accurate heart-breaking aspects of Anne Hathaway’s life included later and May’s journey of self-discovery, shows that this show’s depth goes far beyond a simply electrifying night out. Each thread of the narrative is almost surprisingly well thought through, planned, and connected offering a constantly engaging combination of touching exchanges of friendship and stand out moments of hilarity. Each character is truly connected through Juliet in an organic way and it never feels contrived.
Cassidy Janson as Anne Hathaway stole the show for me. I got so lucky to, I believe so judging from a tweet, catch her first performance back in the show after three weeks and oh. My. God. She is incredible in this show. Janson’s performance curates Anne as a little adorable fire ball of energy with a sharp wit, that equals William Shakespeare himself, and fierce loyalty. She is also incredibly playful but, similarly to Teak-Lee, expertly balances these facets with the complex grief of her relationship and historically accurate separation and loss of their child. ‘That’s the Way It Is’ is worth your ticket price alone.
This is very much a side note, but it has been in my brain since I saw the show. If anyone else has been both Suits and & Juliet please let me know if Anne Hathaway reminded you of Donna Paulsen because I can’t get the comparison out of my head.
This show also expands the Shakespeare marriage, portrayed wonderfully by both Cassidy Janson and Oliver Tompsett, and I was relieved so see an equal balance between Anne’s capability to stand up to her husband, arguing her perspective and fighting back against his actions, but doing do out of a love for him and desire to make it work. She also makes him work for her love in return and, in spite of the Macbeth’s remaining Shakespeare’s happiest married couple, & Juliet turns the Shakespeare couple into an example of a couple who have worked and struggled but ultimately it is for their happiness.
Arun Blair-Mangat as May also proved to be a stand-out character. ‘I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman’ encapsulates the emotion of May’s touching scenes, gripping storyline, and incredibly relatable development by discovering love, identity and traversing friendship at the same time. The clarity of Blair-Manget’s voice ensured this number stayed with me. Completing Juliet’s band of wonderful friends is Melanie La Barrie as Nurse. She is hilarious and wonderfully supportive, but again she embodies the balance of support and touch love informing Juliet when she seems to be making a weird decision. Alongside David Bedella, Nurse and Lance create a rom com of epically heartwarming and side-splitting hilarious proportions.
The music works far better live, and in context of the narrative, as one song leads easily on to the next creating a cohesive whole. It is deceiving how much this relies on the songs sharing a writer, but it really does give the show a distinctive sound despite how different they sounded with their original artists. The set is also far more detailed than it may originally appear. I was in awe of the construction and detail you can see in each element; however, it never overpowers the scene, ensuring to push forward the actors.
I also want to give a huge shoutout to the costumer department and designed by Paloma Young. They are beautifully insane as they predominately adhere to the historical clothing with the slightest updates which result in a total uniqueness. I cannot overstate how much I loved the costumes and I would highly recommend this show to anyone who is interested in costume design.
Overall, I loved this show so much more than I was expecting to. I thoroughly enjoy and study Shakespeare plays and & Juliet is an engagingly current love letter both to Shakespeare and Max Martin’s culturally significant music. I have been recommending this show to all of my friends and, especially judging from the nominations alone, I am sure the delayed awards season will bring it the recognition I thoroughly believe it deserves. Both Miriam Teak-Lee and Cassidy Janson are powerhouses and each member of the cast brings a character to life who will be instantly recognisable, relatable and lovable.
To book tickets to see & Juliet please visit the official website here.
Today (April 23rd) is William Shakespeare’s birthday! If you’re looking for some more Shakespeare content you can read my latest ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book review of Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet which beautifully depicts the Shakespeare family through their courtship, the births of the children, the death of their son, Hamnet, and the inspiration for arguably the world’s most famous play Hamlet.
Before I can say anything about the content of this book, just look at how gorgeous it is! I know the old saying, “never judge a book by its cover”, but I have been making a conscious effort to be more aware of book design this year and this is the perfect example of how…
Please be aware that I attended this show prior to the country-wide closure of theatres. As last year, and now the beginning of this year, were far more hectic than initially planned I am still going to upload reviews of the shows I saw during this time, beginning with the most recent and those either still open or returning to the West End. These circumstances may change so please read these reviews with an open mind that, while they may not be open in London or their return may be disrupted, we need to support the industry more than ever and I’m going to do that by discussing them as I usually would, in doing so, hopefully spreading word of these shows and creators alike.
Buisness E-Mail: Vickylordreview@gmail.com
Goodreads: Vicky Lord