This vivacious new musical arrival in the West End opens with William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway having a marital disagreement over his tragic ending for Romeo and Juliet. Wouldn’t it be better, she argues, if the heroine didn’t kill herself in the final scene? “She’s got her whole life ahead of her, and she’s only had one boyfriend.”
And so begins a hugely entertaining mash-up of Shakespearean drama and the pop music of Max Martin, whose hits include Britney Spears’ Oops! I Did It Again, Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl and Ariane Grande’s Problem.
They’re all here among the 30 or so songs that help propel Juliet’s journey from Verona to Paris and back again, as well as the big themes of female empowerment and being the person you want to be.
As Juliet, Miriam-Teak Lee belts out the hits brilliantly, and shines equally in the quieter, more reflective moments. Cassidy Janson’s Anne Hathaway is a force of nature who gives the show so much of its joie de vivre, and I also enjoyed the comedy pairing of Lance (David Bedella) and Nurse (Melanie La Barrie).
Jukebox musicals often get a lot of stick, but this one, directed by Luke Sheppard, is done so well that you’d have to have taken a big gulp of Juliet’s sleeping potion not to come out smiling.
& Juliet is at the Shaftesbury Theatre until 30 May 2020