& Juliet opens on Broadway: review round-up
Were the US critics living a Teenage Dream?
Hayley Levitt, TheaterMania
"As an audience member at Broadway's newest jukebox musical & Juliet – a West End smash scored by the catalogue of pop hit-maker Max Martin – you have two options. A: You can repentantly pray to the spirit of Stephen Sondheim while his eponymous theater is showered with confetti. Or B: You can have a great time.
"Judging by the performance I witnessed, which had the added challenge of playing to some of the most jaded theater insiders, most are opting for the latter — and yes, against my most crotchety instincts, I include myself in that category. Now, before all you Broadway doomsayers start stocking up on bottled water, this is not a sign of the apocalypse. It simply demonstrates the same scientific principle that impels your snobbiest Radiohead friend to choose 'Oops!...I Did It Again' at karaoke. If pop music be the food of love, play on!"
Jesse Green, The New York Times
"I have done everything a critic can do to stamp out the jukebox musical. I've called it a cockroach, a straitjacket, a leech, a dead fish. I've argued that, with few exceptions, it's a form that's satisfactory neither as music nor as theater, let alone the combination. I've stood proudly, even among my colleagues, as a denier of everything that shows like & Juliet typically stand for.
"So shoot me: I liked it. It felt so wrong; it felt so right."
Christian Lewis, Variety
"The performances are consistently high caliber. [Lorna] Courtney makes for a first-rate Juliet and has a powerful belt: If Bonnie Milligan (Head Over Heels, Kimberly Akimbo) is the belting queen of Broadway, Courtney is the princess. Daniel Maldonado, the understudy who stepped into the role of Romeo at press performances, performed admirably and got a substantial number of laughs.
"The cast standout, especially in terms of acting, is [Betsy] Wolfe as Anne. She fully embodies her character's transformation from shy, wine-drinking mom on a night out to a quill-wielding, playwriting, suffer-no-fools wife, and gives a performance that is funny, touching, and vocally fierce. Melanie La Barrie as the Nurse and Philippe Arroyo as a new love interest round out the principal cast and lend laugh-out-loud comedy."
Greg Evans, Deadline
"Perhaps, we're left thinking, these kids really do have a future – maybe they'll grow up and be in the much better Six.
"It's not that & Juliet is unenjoyable – it isn't. Somewhere beneath the bombast and repetition and overwrought-from-minute-one approach is a sweet(ish) and smart(ish) tale that gives voice to the marginalized and, not incidentally, provides fans of the music of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, P!nk and Justin Timberlake a chance to hear their favorite songs in a musical that makes no secret of its identity: A jukebox takes early pride of place on the set."
Adam Feldman, Time Out
"'Keep it light, keep it tight, keep it fun, and then we're done!' That's the pithy advice that the indignant 16th-century housewife Anne Hathaway (Betsy Wolfe) imparts to her neglectful husband, William Shakespeare (Stark Sands), as a way to improve his play Romeo and Juliet, which she considers too much of a downer. It is also the guiding ethos of the new Broadway jukebox musical & Juliet, a quasi-Elizabethan romp through the chart-toppers of Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin. A diverting synthetic crossbreed of Moulin Rouge!, Something Rotten!, Mamma Mia! and Head Over Heels, this show delivers just what you'd expect. It is what it is: It gives you the hooks and it gets the ovations."
Tickets for the West End production for performances through to 25 March 2023 are on sale below.