“Are you a strong enough man to write a stronger woman?” ~ & Juliet
I must confess
Friends, Broadway has a new queen on the Great White Way and it is known as & Juliet. I can not praise, gush, talk about, or sing (well maybe shout as I leave that to the professionals) the accolades about this musical enough. It is true that there is something for everyone and this show is proof of that. I hate Shakespeare. HATE Shakespeare. Literally would claim the plague myself to get out of reading him, listening to him, having anything to do with him in school, and Romeo and Juliet is at the top of my most detested plays of his. Yet, somehow & Juliet has become my favorite musical on Broadway and makes me love it, and further more, kinda makes me a fan of Shakespeare, and I am a huge fan of Ann Hathaway, no not THAT one, but Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway played by the insanely talented Betsy Wolfe.
& Juliet is a jukebox musical based on the true king of pop songwriting, Max Martin, and is a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Flawlessly weaving Martin’s nineties and early ’00’s hits, it asks the question what if Juliet didn’t die? But it isn’t just a musical about Juliet, or even Romeo with catchy tunes that gives us millennial nostalgia. No, this show takes a story we all know, and breaks it apart, both with problematic storylines, (she’s thirteen being married off in an arranged marriage) as well as new ones (the relationship between Anne and William who is kind of an asshole, but thanks to Stark Sand’s portrayal, you also kind of like him). While it seems the story begins with Juliet, it really begins in a theatre with William Shakespeare debuting his new play, Romeo and Juliet. His wife, Anne Hathaway, again, NOT that one, comes to see his show, in what is an insanely relatable moment for Mom’s and women as a whole, she then convinces Shakespeare to rewrite the ending, and THAT is where the story truly begins.
That I am Obsessed
This show is as much about Anne (aka April) and Will, as it is about Juliet, her nurse Angelique, her friend May, (in what is the first nonbinary role on Broadway) François, his father, Lance, as well as the ensemble who happen to all have named parts. This isn’t one person steals the show, because they all do, though arguably Betsy Wolfe is a goddess! The talent is not only immense, but opening night was the Broadway debut of sixteen, I repeat SIXTEEN, performers, many of them in lead supporting roles, including Lorna Courtney who portrays Juliet.
As I mentioned, Betsy Wolfe is a goddess. Truly. This was the role she was born to play, (I know she might disagree considering her recent campaign for Ragtime) from her insanely impeccable comedic timing, the chemistry with Shakespeare’s, Stark Sands & Juliet’s, Lorna Courtney, and her vocals. Oh her vocals. Her version of That’s the way it is cuts to the soul. We have all heard Celine Dion sing it thousands of times, but Betsy Wolfe gives actual goosebumps and tears. It is an experience that one should not miss. I have seen it seven times (I know!) and each time I see her perform that song, it is like the first time. She puts her heart and soul into it and the audience FEELS it. The way these songs, which I grew up listening too, are woven into the show is absolutely seamless. It somehow magically and genuinely works to not just create an enjoyable experience, but to also move the storyline along. It also makes you look at these songs in a new light.
Oops I saw It Again
This is a show that I would (and have) happily see it again, and again, and again. It is a show that fills me with SO much joy. And while the characters are flawed, some more so then others, (Shakespeare can not see passed his own hubris, and François hasn’t learned the art of thou shall say no) they are also deliciously and refreshingly human. We are all on a journey, that is going to include us fucking up, but hopefully we will learn and grow from that, because that is what the human experience is. And in a true happily for now Broadway moment, these characters do just that.
You can tell that not only is the whole cast passionate about this show as they dance and rock out on stage, but there is a genuine camaraderie and a friendship with-in the cast. They truly cheer each other on, as witnessed when understudy Kim Onah was thrown on literally ten minutes before & Juliet was suppose to began. The love this cast has for their fans and for each other is seen every single time they get on stage.
You will cheer, you will sing, you will want to get up and dance along. & Juliet is an experience that is so full of talent, fun, and joy, it should NOT be missed. What is more you will want to keep going back! At its core, it is about being true to yourself and that is something that should be celebrated every single day and is eight times a week with this show! And did I mention there is confetti, AND glitter through OUT the show? Dance don’t walk to & Juliet and if you see it again, and again, and again, well Oooops that is alright baby!
Have you seen & Juliet? What is your favorite Broadway show?