Everyone knows the tragic story of Romeo & Juliet but What if Juliet’s end was a new beginning? That’s the question this Juke Box style musical & Juliet answers by giving Juliet (Lorinda May Merrypor) a second chance at life. When Shakespeare (Rob Mills) is persuaded by his wife, Anne Hathaway Amy Lehpamer), to change Romeo and Juliet’s ending, Juliet goes on a wild trip from Verona to Paris with Anne, Her friend May (Jesse Dutlow) and Nurse (Casey Donovan). Things go array when an unlikely love triangle unfurls and Romeo (Blake Appelqvist) miraculously comes back to life.
Featuring the music of legendary pop songwriter Max Martin and with a book by the Emmy-winning writer of Schitt’s Creek, David West Read. & Juliet features iconic hits from Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, The Weeknd and Kelly Clarkson.
Luke Sheppard’s direction and Jennifer Weber’s choreography are sky high in energy. Not relaxing the colour and movement for even a moment. With the amount of visual effects, scenic changes, costume changes, and confetti cannons, the staging borders on being over-produced but there is certainly plenty of bang for everyone’s buck.
As much as the show feels directed toward a strongly young demographic — some of them possibly not even born yet when Backstreet were harmonizing their fire, or their one desire. The script makes several knowing nods, much like a Pixar movie, to the grown-ups in the room.
The role of Juliet is played by Lorinda May Merrypor. Clearly a star on the rise, Merrypor played the massive role as if it were totally her own, easily winning the audience over with her magnetism and sheer talent.
With a charming stage presence, Rob Mills is a cheerily likeable lead as Will. Amy Lehpamer delights as Anne, quickly gaining audience affection and keeping them in her hand all night.
Jesse Dutlow (May), Yashith Fernando (François), and Blake Appelqvist (Romeo) are each excellent in their own way. Dutlow is particularly endearing as May, tenderly bringing the audience towards them with their sweet, sympathetic performance.
Casey Donovan has fabulous tricks up her sleeve as Juliet’s blossoming Nurse, Angélique.
Finally, the most luxurious of casting comes in the form of musical theatre star Hayden Tee as Lance de Bois who with his rich warm vocals, perfect french acent & comedic timing leaves the audience (myself included) in histerics.
As close to a guaranteed good night out as can be had by young people in the theatre, & Juliet is set to usher countless new fans into a love of musical theatre.
& Juliet is now playing at Melbournes Regent Theatre. For tickets & more information head to andJuliet.com.au
Photo credit Daniel Boud