Think you know the story of Romeo & Juliet? Well think again, because this brand new pop musical has had a massive update. And it’s premiered in the best city in England, Manchester!
William Shakespeare is about to stage the final scene of the play until wife, Anne Hathaway, pops in for support. Often known as the woman behind the man, she decides it’s time to step into the spotlight and make her voice heard. Her female perspective brings this production into the 21st century.
First up, why does Juliet have to die? She’s a teenager who’s been ‘in love’ for like 4 days. The cure for her broken heart does not lie in death, but in a Parisian getaway with her besties. It’s time for Juliet to ‘find herself’, escape her overbearing parents and have some fun.
But it’s not so simple, as husband and wife duo disagree on the drama and Shakespeare is determined to add his trademark conflict and woe.
A discography to die for
This fresh and contemporary show is married with the best pop music of the last few decades, penned by musical mastermind Max Martin. Songs performed by the likes of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Demi Lovato, Pink and Ariana Grande all make an appearance. And thankfully, every song makes sense in the story.
It’s a proper party. The bass booms through the auditorium. Glitter canons, dazzling fireworks and neon lights turn this into one flashy production.
From a script that’s been modernised yet retained its Shakespearean references to the hip but historical costuming and street dance displays. This musical is the fantastic fusion I was hoping for.
& don’t forget the performances
Juliet (Mariam-Teak Lee) has a delicious voice and oozes confidence, spunk and attitude. She’s the kind and cool friend everyone wants. Anne (Cassidy Janson) matches her unbelievable vocals with master comic timing, bouncing really well off her husband Shakespeare (Oliver Tompsett) who’s properly pompous.
Romeo (Jordan Luke Gage) proves to be suitably empty-headed and Francois (Tim Mahendran) is a genuine and likeable prince. Best friend forever, May (Arun Blair-Mangat) displays innocence and vulnerability whilst Lance (David Bedella) and Nurse (Melanie La Barrie) add heaps of humour to the proceedings. A powerful cast for sure.
& Juliet is pure, unadulterated pop. It’s a fierce, fabulous and funny musical retelling of the greatest love story in the world.
Buy &JULIET tickets for Shaftesbury Theatre here. Open until 3 October 2020. Seats from only £23.
Premiered at Manchester Opera House and closed on 12 October 2019. Now playing at Shaftesbury Theatre, London, from 2 November 2019 – 3 October 2020.
Photo credits: Johan Persson