The greatest playwright in English literature and the producer behind ‘90s pop songs might not seem like obvious creative bed fellows.
But the unlikely fusion of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy with the chart-topping tunes of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and Celine Dion – all created by Swedish hit-maker Max Martin – has resulted in a musical theatre show that has charmed audiences around the world.
What is it?
If classroom memories of Shakespeare send shivers down your spine, relax – this is no dusty, Elizabethan affair. At its heart, & Juliet is a fiercely feminist story about independence, diversity and living truthfully, told through a roll call of hooky, dancy, karaoke belters from Max Martin’s back catalogue, including songs by Katy Perry, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson, P!nk and NSYNC.
The year is 1597. Following the premiere performance of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, attempts to persuade the Bard to save his star-crossed lovers from their grim fate and rewrite the play’s suicidal climax. What follows is a pop-powered “What if?” that sees the fictional Juliet come to life and travel to Paris. There, she discovers there’s far more to matters of the heart than just young love.
Why you should care
Since its Manchester premiere in 2019, & Juliet has put bums on seats in London’s West End, New York’s Broadway and Toronto. In early 2023, Melbourne became the fifth city in the world to welcome the show, presented by Michael Cassel Group. Hot on the heels of this successful Australian debut, audiences in Perth and Sydney will now get the chance to see the stage spectacle. The Australian cast is stacked with homegrown talent, including Australian Idol alumni Rob Mills and Casey Donovan, and proud Kuungkari and South Sea Islander woman Lorinda May Merrypor in the title role.
When you can see it
Image credits: Daniel Boud