Julet – Review

Having heard that there was a new musical called & Juliet that reimagined the classic William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet I was very apprehensive. I thought it would be like all the other adaptations I have seen in my lifetime but I couldn’t have been more wrong!t’s extremely difficult for me to summarise the show in just a few words as it was such a spectacle where so much happens. But the narrative follows William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway as they imagine what would have happened if Juliet hadn’t killed herself in Romeo and Juliet and how her life would have progressed while focussing of important themes such as sexuality, female empowerment and acceptance. The show had everything you could want from a musical from much loved pop songs , Juliet riding a chandelier , pyrotechnics , massive song and dance numbers and shocking/dramatic twist and turns.

On top of this, & Juliet is one of the most clever musicals I have ever seen. Even the name itself, & Juliet, is clever as it is all about what life would have been like if Juliet hadn’t killed herself and Romeo had. There is no Romeo in the actual story and therefore there is no Romeo in the title which is a smart choice and whoever came up with this should be applauded. Secondly, this is a show about a group of people building a musical which if don’t incorrectly could be very difficult to follow for the audience but this production did it in a clever way. There were scenes in which Anne Hathaway called for lights up (which actually happened) to separate the staged musical from the musical the audience was watching. This simple idea helped make the story easy to follow and helped the audience know whether the scene was happening in the musical Shakespeare and Hathaway were creating or the workshopping area. On top of this, the creators of this show clearly studied Shakespeare and his work a lot. There were incredible jokes about the context of his work. For example, there was a whole scene were Anne Hathaway calls Shakespeare out about being hesitant about including a homosexual storyline in the new musical and she brings up the fact that he wrote a series of poems to a mysterious guy who he supposedly had feelings for or the fact that he wrote plays that had men who dressed as women who were playing men. This was an extremely clever inclusion that as your eyes are watching this incredible spectacle unfold your mind is being titillated with the scholarly side of the side. If all this wasn’t enough, this show possessed some of the smoothest transitions into songs that I have ever seen. Too many times have I watched musical where dialogue happens and then almost randomly the actor starts singing but this song blended then dialogue with the music and all the song choices made perfect sense in terms of the storyline as well.

Unlike the original play, Juliet in this production was portrayed as super sassy, strong and independent. Miriam-Teak lee took on this iconic role and absolutely smashed every single aspect of the new and reimagined character. She is clearly an insanely talented singer and her rendition of “Roar” was out of this world. Her incredible and strong vocals combined with her clearly natural sass made this song a highlight of the world production. She was hilariously funny and gave this character a whole new perspective which was amazing to see.

The sort of narrators in this show was Ann Hathaway and William Shakespeare (played by Cassidy Janson and Oliver Tompsett respectively) and these two worked excellently as a double act. Cassidy managed to bring to life Shakespeare’s wife in a comical but also relatable way which is especially important as many people forget about Anne. She delivered many of the comical moments such as jokes about not being THAT Anne Hathaway. She was also involved in the meta-musical being created as a sort of excitable young best friend which was performed perfectly. These two sang the iconic song “I want it that way” when discussing their two contrasting opinions on what happens in the story. Which was insanely clever and also hilariously funny in equal regards.

A new character that was introduced in this musical was May who takes on the role of Juliet’s gay best friend played by Arun Blair-Mangat. I was sceptical when the character was first introduced but as time progressed they actually became my favourite character. They were iconic and complemented the sass from Juliet perfectly. This character helped introduced the gay storyline which was so emotional and heartfelt. A highlight of this performance was the song “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” which was so moving and brought many of the audience members to tears. This song was beautifully performed and had so much genuine emotion behind it that the audience could feel the pain which is a credit to Arun talent and performance ability. Another highlight for this role was “I kissed a girl” which was a duet with Francois (played by Tim Mahendran) which was a beautiful song about events that occurred the night before.

Having known David Bedella from his stint as Frank N Furter in the rocky horror picture show I already had high expectations for his portrayal as Lance (Francois father) and he surpassed even the already high standard set. He seemed to excel in the most comedic role especially during his duet to a mash-up of teenage dream/break free which was hilariously funny. He and the nurse (played by Melanie LA Barrie) had great on-stage chemistry which added to the already fantastic viewing experience. He was insane in this role and I will keep an eye out for his next production as he continues to astonish and amaze in each role he takes on.

Following the classic musical structure, act one was all fun and games and then act two was ridiculously emotional and heartfelt. He had so many heart-wrenching moments such as a moment of acceptance between father and son, William Shakespeare serenading his wife and all the poignant messages of female empowerment. Something that not many people would notice is the fact that Anne Hathaway and Juliet leave the stage together at the end of the show which really solidifies all the concepts of the show. This show provided everything you can want in production so there are very few improvements in terms of the show. The only issue I noticed was a backstage person kept opening and closing the curtain and at certain times he was clearly visible which was very distracting for the audience.

Overall this is an incredible production that was a spectacle to watch, was hilariously funny, contained extremely important messages about acceptance and female empowerment etc but at the same time being insanely clever and possessing some of the best singing I have ever listened to. This soundtrack for this musical is available on Spotify and I have to say that if you are looking for a playlist that will lift you out of a slump and make you feel like you can take on the world then this is the one for you! I would rate this production five stars and would recommend everyone to catch this show as it will excite all your senses including your mind!

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