& JULIET REVIEW – SHAFTESBURY THEATRE, LONDON
12/03/20 – 2.30PM
Welcome to theatre week on The English Everygirl.
I’ve been sat on these theatre reviews for over a week now and have gone back and forth about whether to post them. Then I got to thinking: why did I start blogging in the first place? I started blogging for me, because I love to write, because I wanted to share my life. Theatre is something else I love and love to write about!
After a long weekend in London, I’m back in Hull finally. What was meant to be a trip to see the Country2Country festival with a couple of musicals thrown in, the festival was postponed the day after I arrived. Because I’d paid for my hotel and travel already and I knew I’d be able to get a refund on my tickets eventually, I decided to stay. With my plans for Friday, Saturday and Sunday all thrown out the window, I wanted to keep myself busy. What better way than seeing a load of theatre shows?
I knew that over the next couple of months, I wouldn’t get chance to get down here again to see many shows (I’m not due back to London until the end of June) so thought I’d make the most of it whilst I was there. Over three days (Thursday-Saturday), I managed to squeeze in five shows. With so many events being cancelled, I was surprised but thrilled to see that the West End theatres were staying open for the time being. Unfortunately, with my local theatre shutting now for three months and the West End now closed, I won’t be seeing any theatre for quite a while now! From today until Saturday, I’ll be reviewing a show a day for you all so let’s get stuck in with the first one: the & Juliet review.
& Juliet is a show I’ve heard a lot about (I’ve listened to the soundtrack a few times and know the basic storyline) but for a jukebox musical, I was sceptical going in. Having been to Stratford-upon-Avon last year and visiting all the Shakespeare museums, I am now a fully-fledged expert on Will Shakes. Romeo & Juliet is one of my least favourites of his works, purely because it’s romance.
However, taking the most popular love story of all time and changing it up into a musical is a huge risk. However, it seems to be adored by the public and critics alike. I doubt it will close anytime soon but it’s been on my to-watchlist for some time. I was thrilled to grab a ticket from TodayTix a couple of weeks before travelling.
With a matinee performance, I expect to see some swings or understudies; however, not once have they been less than perfect. They’re the unsung heroes of any cast as they have multiple roles to learn and can be called upon at any time.
In this performance, I managed to see four cast changes, which is more than I’ve ever seen before. I was mostly excited to see Grace Mouat as Juliet, as anyone who’s been in Six before is a boss woman. I believe she was the first woman to have played all six queens, which must take some crazy work! (As a super fan, I regularly perform my one-woman concert, portraying all the queens myself.)
However, when I went to see Six last year, she had already left the show. I was excited to see Grace in a lead role and she made such a fantastic Juliet. She was confident and sassy, much like a Six queen, but she also played vulnerable in some scenes. She has an incredible range too, belting out pop princess hits like we all do in the shower, but obviously 1000% better.
Cassidy Janson (Anne) and Oliver Tompsett (Shakespeare) were two highlights for me. Janson has such a pitch perfect voice and I could listen to her sing all day long. The chemistry between her and Tompsett was undeniable and both played their characters with tonnes of humour. The show is full of Shakespeare puns, mostly from these two, which had me howling many, many times.
Special mentions to David Bedella (Lance) and Melanie La Barrie (Nurse/Angelique) rounding out the ‘adult’ cast; both were absolutely hilarious, and they played off each other so well. The other covers on were Nathan Lorainey-Dineen (May), Dillon Scott-Lewis (Francois) and Alex Tranter (Romeo). I particularly adored the blossoming relationship between May and Francois; it was certainly a way to bring the play into a 21st-century musical.
As someone who is a huge fan of 90s and 00s pop music, I knew the music would be right up my street. These pop classics, from Britney to Backstreet Boys, have been updated and given an even more contemporary feel. Don’t think that the covers are a carbon copy of the originals. Juliet’s haunting ballad version of …Baby One More Time is beautiful and melodic. Max Martin’s songbook is impressive, having hits spanning four decades now.
I must admit the school group in front of me considered some of these 90s pop hits as ‘old’, which shocked me! Some didn’t even know any of the Backstreet Boys or Britney songs! They need a music education in classic pop music. However, considering they were under sixteen, they weren’t even born when Queen Britney first appeared on the music scene! That made me feel old!
If you’re looking for a fun night out full of pop music and female empowerment, & Juliet is the show for you. It’s uplifting and funny as well as being so current. Even if you’re not usually a fan of musicals, you might well like this one. We all know the story of Romeo & Juliet so what if Juliet didn’t kill herself and went on to live her life? Explore Anne Hathaway’s version of Juliet’s story with a Max Martin soundtrack in support. Grab your girlfriends, your mum or yourself and get down to the Shaftesbury Theatre when it reopens! I hope this & Juliet review inspires you to make a trip eventually!
What did you think of my & Juliet review? Have you seen the show yourself? Are you a fan?