In a goofy high-energy mash-up of then and now, following within the footsteps of One thing Rotten and Six, Shakespeare’s basic tragedy Romeo and Juliet has been re-envisioned as a coming-of-age jukebox musical rom-com with a feminist twist that postulates what may need occurred if Juliet didn’t do herself in over Romeo, if she have been 22 as an alternative of fourteen, and if Will’s spouse Anne Hathaway had enter into the story, to offer Juliet (and herself) the empowered future she may have had (if 1597 merged with right now).
After its pre-pandemic Olivier Award-winning engagement in London in 2019, & Juliet has arrived at Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre with a sketchy e-book by Emmy-winning Schitt’s Creek author David West Learn, tying collectively a rating of chart-topping pop hits of the Nineteen Nineties and past from five-time Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Max Martin and associates, animated present-day choreography by Emmy winner Jennifer Weber, and a youthful firm of 25, fifteen of them making their Broadway debuts, below the unbridled path of Luke Sheppard.
Created within the metatheatrical format of a play-within-a-play, the narrative follows the lively rewriting of Juliet’s journey, right here leaving Verona for emancipation and a second probability at love in Paris, together with the relationships of her non-binary BFF Might and her new French fiancé François DuBois (whom she calls Frankie DeBoy – “however what’s in a reputation”), his father Lance and her nurse Angélique (who had a previous connection), the womanizing Romeo (who additionally didn’t die) and his many previous lovers, and Will and Anne (who interpolates herself into the musical reimagining as Juliet’s different BFF April – ensuing within the trio of self-realizing touring besties April, Might, and Juliet, and a sign of Learn’s model of humor), because the collaborating playwrights reappear all through the present to do battle over the content material and path of their ongoing deconstruction of the unique and points in their very own unequal marriage.
There are foolish references to Shakespeare and his canon, over-the-top portrayals of the comedian characters – particularly Betsy Wolfe’s Anne, Melanie La Barrie’s Angélique, and Tony Award-winning operatic baritone Paulo Szot’s Lance – and an apparent socio-political message, made in a jokey campy model, of be who you’re, love who you’re keen on, and don’t be “a douche” – classes lastly embraced by Philippe Arroyo’s dorky, shy, and insecure François; Michael Iván Service’s delicate Might (filling in superbly for Justin David Sullivan on the efficiency I attended); Lorna Courtney’s more and more assured Juliet; Ben Jackson Walker’s rock-star Romeo and Stark Sands’ well-played Will, who make the fast-track transition from egotistical to apologetic of their sudden consciousness of the love and appreciation they really feel for Juliet and Anne, who boldly problem them and their now dated androcentric attitudes.
However the principle raison d’être for the jukebox musical is to function the pop anthems of Martin (the person behind probably the most #1 songs on this century), round which the story is constructed, underscored by the distinguished placement of an precise jukebox on stage, simply in case you didn’t get it. The solid has effective voices and clearly relishes performing the songs, dances, and humor they’ve been given with a vibrant jeunesse, in a present that’s to be appreciated extra by followers of its retrospective set listing of 29 numbers than for its plot factors.
Among the many musical highlights, and the perfect retrofits with the theme and characters, are Anne telling Will, concerning her script revisions, “I Need It That Means,” Might noting “I’m Not a Woman, Not But a Girl,” Juliet (who solely knew Romeo for 4 days after which obtained engaged as shortly to François in Paris) recognizing “Oops! . . . I Did It Once more,” calling out her welcome independence from Romeo with “Since U Been Gone‚” and belting out her new-found liberation in “Roar,” and the DuBois household (or DeBoy, as Juliet instantly and prophetically mispronounces the surname) getting their Boy Band again collectively and performing “Everyone (Backstreet’s Again)” – which is probably the most far-fetched but in addition probably the most entertaining of the songs, with ebullient musical supervision, orchestrations, and preparations by Invoice Sherman and music path by Dominic Fallacaro, and a wink at Shakespeare’s comedic use of disguises and mistaken identities.
The offbeat anachronisms that drive the present additionally outline the extravagant creative design. The set by Soutra Gilmour, costumes Paloma Younger, hair, wigs, and make-up by J. Jared Janas, and video and projections by Andrzej Goulding are a mixture of Shakespeare’s time, Paris by the centuries, and our personal post-modern period, energized to the max with high-octane lighting by Howard Hudson and sound by Gareth Owen. And naturally, as with all fortunately ending jukebox musicals, there’s confetti.
Working Time: Roughly two hours and half-hour, together with an intermission.