“&Juliet”: See it one last time before March 25 in London

Woman on stage
Woman on stage

“&Juliet”: See it one last time before March 25 in London

by Tamala Malerk
Stripes Europe

I spent all of middle school, high school and college as a theater kid, so of course Shakespeare was a big presence in my life. In fact, I performed Juliet’s death scene at a theater competition in high school. When I heard that some of my favorite pop songs from the 1990s and 2000s were turned into a feminist modern retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,” I knew that I had to see it while in London.

“&Juliet” picks up after Romeo has died. Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife, convinces him to change the narrative. What if Juliet doesn’t die? What happens when she chooses to live her life without Romeo?

Juliet travels to Paris to escape her parent’s order to join a nunnery. She is joined by her nurse and her new best friends April, portrayed self-reflectivly by Anne Hathaway and May, a non-binary character. Shakespeare fans will love the familiar tropes of ridiculous plot twists and lack of communication being the primary plot driver as well as the easter eggs throughout the musical. For example, Anne Hathaway makes several allusions to the fact that “Romeo and Juliet” was loosely based on her own marriage to Shakespeare.

Audiences will appreciate how the musical honors the source material but at the same time addresses and reboots some of the glaring issues from the original.For example, Juliet and crew are “aged up” to their twenties rather than Juliet being 13. Millennials will rock out to the music and admire the convoluted plot twist that leads to five characters in full 90s boy band garb performing Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody.”

Much like musicals “Six” and “Hamilton,” “&Juliet” brings female and other voices to the forefront in well-known stories and histories that have typically left out non-heterosexual-male voices.

“&Juliet” has been nominated for nine Olivier awards with Miriam-Teak Lee (Juliet) and Cassidy Jansen (Anne Hathaway) winning best actress and best supporting actress in a musical. “&Juliet” will be at the Shaftsbury Theatre until March 25, 2023.

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