and juliet, anne hathaway, bon jovi, britney spears, comedy, drama, juliet, julius d'silva, keala settle, lgbt, london, love, max martin, miriam teak lee, paris, pop, pop anthems, romantic comedy, romeo and juliet, shakespeare, Tom Francis, verona, west end, william shakespeare
The two lovers of Verona are about to lose their titles, thanks to the mess that Shakespeare’s wife is about to make! Don’t worry – you may as well like it, as so thousands of viewers in the West End already have. Now, with a new cast of supporting actors, Guillermo Názara has ventured into the Shaftesbury Theatre to let us know everything about the musical that opens when they didn’t die happily ever after.
Parting is such a sweet sorrow… Especially when you’re leaving for the adventure of life. We’ve all been there up to a point, I’m pretty sure. That feeling of confinement where we seem to have reached a dead end – often caused (or blamed on) our people and fate. There’s only two ways to move from there – you can either accept what’s written for you, or else grab the pen and author your own plot. Alas for conventions, alas for what others expect from you. Let’s keep this tragedy swirling until it turns into comedy – and there you go, you’ve got yourself a brand new show!
Enter (no flourish needed) & Juliet, a musical where Shakespeare’s (and probably the world’s) most famous and highest regarded romance is just not good enough. Despite his flashy big entrance at the play’s opening, the bard will soon find his quill making more scribbles than he had ever imagined. For maybe he can’t see, he can’t see how this love is affecting (somebody’s, I’m not telling who) reality. The original ending now becomes the beginning, and perhaps also a beacon of hope for Juliet (& friends), who’s no longer interested in killing herself. The same can’t be said for Romeo, though (or can it…?). Don’t worry, you’re safe with me when it comes to spoilers… as for the rest, don’t feel at ease.
Juke-boxing through Max Martin’s impressively succesful pop repertoire (you may not be aware of how many hits the man’s co-written), we’re presented with an exceptionally well-structured work, where every musical number falls perfectly into place while balancing out with many hilarious dialogues. The audience’s reaction is quite staggering – as every little pause is almot an excuse for them to burst into cheers and applause. And let’s admit it – there are moments where it’s fairly deserved.
But Romeo and Juliet’s tale is not the only love story we’ll be dealing with during this trip to a paralel-universe France (that’s right, Verona is out of the picture too). Along with our familiar heroes (and somehow, also thanks to them), we’ll encounter some new ways of forbidden but at the same time triumphant love. And how welcome they all are! Because, at least in my case, I even care more for both May (don’t let the name mislead you) and Francois and, on the other hand, Lance and the Nurse, especially when their after-bed scene takes place… No, it’s not what you think! Well, it’s kinda not what you think…
Enough with the bad jokes and dirty thoughts! Let’s put our minds into something more… well, less… Anyway, let’s talk about the sets. In a mist of flashy lights and glitter, the world of l’amour comes to life through quite an effective design, where aesthetics and practicality merge to bring us excellent visual narration, combined with moments of beauty and occasional soaring spectacularity. As for the cast, lead actress Miriam Teak-Lee does good justice to the title role both with fine vocals and acting skills – apart from the amazing chemistry shared onstage with the brilliant Tom Francis (Romeo). However, it’s the new comers, Julius D’Silva (Lance) and Keala Settle (Nurse) that stand out the most – showing off incredible stamina and stage presence, as well as a ridiculously natural comedy bone (especially the former).
Don’t waste your love on somebody, who doesn’t value it. Shakespeare’s quotes may still be much more valuable than his wife believes. And the thing is that this one also encapsulates the show’s main message perfectly. There might be some morals I don’t fully agree with, but all in all it’s a good light-hearted show, where you’re certainly guaranteed a nice bunch of laughs and even be inspired to pursue your own happiness. After all, happiness is what life must be all about. And life is what art (and hence the theatre) must be all about.
& Juliet plays at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre from Monday to Saturday. Tickets can be purchased on the following link.