&Juliet is a jukebox musical with the hits of the Swedish singer and producer Max Martin. He has written or co-written 22 number-one hits, for artists like Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and many more. The hits have new arrangements by the Tony and Grammy award-winning Bill Sherman. The show, directed by Luke Shepperd and book by David West Reed originates by a question, debated by Shakespeare (Oliver Tompsett) and his wife Ann (Cassidy Janson): what if Juliet had never taken her life? What if, instead, Juliet (Miriam Teak-Lee) decided to pick up and go to Paris with her Nurse (Melanie La Barrie) and her friend May (Arun Blair-Mangat)? And what if Romeo (Jordan Luke Gage) didn't die?
&Juliet is a show that doesn't take itself too seriously and keeps the audience easily focused and entertained with famous songs, many colours, the impressive choreography by Jennifer Weber, and the multiple twisted and turns of the plot. Even if we are in the 16th Century, the story is fresh and the relationships on the side-line play a very important part in it. One, is the affair between May and Francois (Tim Mahendran), and the other (very funny) is the one between Nurse and Lance (David Badella).
The diverse cast is sensational. Miriam Teak-Lee is a powerhouse, Arun Blair-Manhattan is heart breaking in his performance of "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman", Luke is a magnetic Romeo, Oliver and Cassidy are wonderful as Shakespeare and his wife. What is really amazing in this show are the strong vocals and the excellent dancing: you won't be able to find a weak link in the whole cast.
The pace of the show never slows down and the vibrant and poignant story, the dance routines and the amazing set designed by Soutra Gilmour keep engaged the audience until the very end, when everyone is up on their feet, dancing.
I saw a lot of smiles on the faces of the audience at the press night. That is because the show takes you literally out of this world, and, even if just for a couple of hours, to a new dimension. Famous songs, captivating love stories, an energetic cast and, most of all, an important message of universal acceptance come all together like pieces of a perfect puzzle. It may be cheesy, but it is pure, uplifting escapism. And this is what we need, right now.
Tickets from £ 22: here
Photo: Johan Persson