Musical Take on Romeo & Juliet Premieres TonightDate: 4 November 2002
Romeo and Juliet - The Musical receives its UK premiere tonight, 4 November 2002, at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre (following previews from 18 October).
The musical version of Shakespeare's tragic romance stars Andrew Bevis and 15-year-old newcomer Lorna Want as the young lovers, with recording artist and The Cruise's reality TV star Jane McDonald as the Nurse. They're joined in the cast by Sevan Stephan, David Bardsley, Michele Hooper, Michael Cormick, James Graeme, Louise Davidson, Rachid Sabitri, Matthew Dempsey, Alexis James and Tim Walton.
First seen in Paris in January 2001, Romeo et Juliette has since become one of the most successful French-language musicals of all time, with 20 original songs by Gerard Presgurvic. Over one million people have seen the French show, which launched a new tour this year, while the cast recording has spawned three No 1 singles and sold a total of six million copies combined.
The English language version features the same music but with new lyrics by Don Black (best known to UK theatregoers for his various collaborations with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, including Song and Dance, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard and Bombay Dreams, for which he provided the English lyrics to AR Rahman's Indian music) and a revised book by Black and Opera Factory's David Freeman, who also directs.
Romeo and Juliet is designed by David Roger, with musical arrangements by John Cameron. It's produced in the West End by Adam Kenwright.
Unlike Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's classic West Side Story, which transplanted Shakespeare's love story to 20th-century gangland New York, Romeo and Juliet - The Musical stays largely faithful to the original. While the dialogue is updated and modern pop music added, the story and characters as well as the Renaissance Verona setting remain.
- by Terri Paddock