Did & Juliet make the critics roar?
The new jukebox musical that remixes the end of Romeo and Juliet arrives in the West End
Alex Wood, WhatsOnStage
"The plot is surprisingly fresh – it's the 16th century (sort of, the era is all very vague) and Anne Hathaway, coming to London for the premiere of her husband William Shakespeare's new play, discovers that the tragedy's plot ends with more of a bum note than she'd hoped."
"Director Luke Sheppard runs a tight ship, avoiding what could be a sweetly, oversaturated experience. It is helped significantly by Jennifer Weber's fluid, rapid choreography, as well as Bill Sherman and Dominic Fallacaro's fantastic arrangements, transplanting all of Martin's tunes to the stage while retaining their unquenchable feel-good factor."
"On paper, it all sounds far less convincing than it is in practice, but what stops the show from becoming a bawdy panto experience is David West Read's fleet, fun and well-wrought book... If music be the food of love, then & Juliet serves up an all-you-can-eat buffet of the highest standard."
Tim Bano, The Stage
"It makes you want to hunt down the inventor of the jukebox musical and apologise to them for being a bit sniffy about the form in the past, because if they hadn't invented the jukebox musical then we wouldn't have had the privilege of seeing its apotheosis here...The way it uses "Oops!… I Did It Again" is one of the best placements of a pre-existing song in all of musical theatre history."
"Everyone has brought their A-game to Luke Sheppard's production. The show even manages to do that most elusive thing in West End musicals and get the sound levels right, so that we can hear every word every performer sings, as well as each layer of instrumentation in Bill Sherman's clever arrangements of such familiar songs."
Alexandra Pollard, The Independent
& Juliet, built around the music of songwriting savant Max Martin, takes this wry premise, douses it in glitter and runs with it. Every moment of the Luke Sheppard-directed production is soundtracked by one of Martin's power-pop hits – songs made famous by Katy Perry, Ellie Goulding, Kelly Clarkson, Robyn et al.
"The shoehorning is egregious – joyously, knowingly so. Shakespeare (Oliver Tompsett) and Anne spar over the ending of his play to Backstreet Boys's "I Want It That Way". Juliet (newcomer Miriam-Teak Lee) grieves over Romeo (Jordan Luke Gage) to "...Baby One More Time". It gets laughs at first, but Lee commits so fully that it feels entirely appropriate, by the end, for an Elizabethan woman to sing a Britney song over the body of her dead paramour."
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out
"Aside from the epochal tunes and daft story, huge performances and slick visuals are at the heart of a musical that's clearly not an actual classic but absolutely makes the most of what it has. Janson is a scream as Hathaway, who is bored of her husband's gadding about to London and decides to rebel; Melanie La Barrie is great fun as Juliet's seen-it-all Nurse; Tompsett is a self-regarding treat as Shakespeare."
"At this stage in the history of Western civilisation it would be a bit ridiculous to say Max Martin can't write words for female performers, it's his soaring anthems that give Juliet her heart. Yes, it's all executed a bit gauchely, but its foregrounding of female and queer characters feels sweet."
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
"Prim romantic shenanigans follow, mostly revolving around Juliet's non-binary best friend May (Arun Blair-Mangat) echoing Shakespeare's more radical depictions of sexual and gender fluidity.
"There's a lot of "yass kween" affirmation and knowing, terrible jokes. La Barrie and David Bedella supply broad, outrageously accented comic turns."
The costumes look like a clubland fever dream. Lee leads the ensemble in killer moves and is only briefly challenged by Janson in the lung-busting ballad stakes. This show is camp, overblown and absurd but fills a particular West End niche particularly well."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
"If tedium is kept at bay, it is largely through the noisy energy of Luke Sheppard's production and the performances of Lee as the freedom-seeking Juliet, Janson as the mutinous Anne Hathaway and Tompsett as her vainglorious husband.
"I still fail to see the point of a show like this: if the audience want to hear just the songs, why not present them in concert form? It feels gratuitous to attach them to a plot that, in its desperation to sound the right feminist notes, becomes almost painfully hip."