‘& Juliet’ puts an energetic spin on typical Shakespeare

& Juliet puts an energetic spin on typical Shakespeare

Differing from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘& Juliet’ is a musical that opened on Broadway on November 17, 2022. The play initially began in London in September 2019.

The show is a jukebox musical featuring music from popular music groups or genres. The musical contains hit songs from artists such as Britney Spears, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry. The show radiates pure energy with each of these songs woven into the theme of women empowerment, all made more amazing by the excellent costumes, set and hip-hop-style dance numbers.

The show begins with its narrators, William Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway (Betsy Wolfe), and Shakespeare himself (Stark Sands). Anne states that William isn’t putting enough effort into their marriage. She believes that she is only second to his first love, his job as a playwright.

Anne is troubled by the ending that William has drafted for him recent play ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ She is unsettled by the ways he casts off Juliet as a damsel in distress with no life to live after her beloved Romeo has perished.  She offers to help write an alternative ending with the pair singing Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It That Way.’ In Anne’s retelling, although Juliet is heartbroken about the demise of Romeo, she doesn’t kill herself after she finds Romeo dead.

Belting out Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time,’ Juliet decides to run away to Paris with her nurse, Angelique (Melanie La Barrie), and her non-binary best friend May (Justin David Sullivan). There are many surprises awaiting the group in Paris. Past lovers reunite and new relationships develop at the same time Juliet is realizing that the most important love for herself is self-love.

While at some points the show feels more like a pop concert than a Broadway play, it is nevertheless a fun experience. Familiar songs such as Perry’s ‘Roar’ and Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody (Backstreet Back)’ give the audience a reason to get out of their chairs and dance.

The musical has strong themes of confidence and feminism. Every character in the show fights for a romance on their own terms, which is difficult since the show takes place between the 14th and 15th centuries when traditional notions of relationships dictated. It’s hard for the musical to stay historically accurate but the whole point of  ‘& Juliet’ is to stray from the original path.

Although ‘& Juliet’ may not be the most groundbreaking musical to reach Broadway, it’s still a fun and light-hearted experience that leaves the audience happily humming its tunes. I give the musical 4 out of 5 stars for its plot twists, creative costumes, and girl power message.