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& Juliet

This Olivier Award-winning Shakespeare-meets-pop musical is spinning its alternative take on 'Romeo and Juliet' in Sydney.
By Sarah Ward
January 30, 2024
By Sarah Ward
January 30, 2024

Sydney, it's your time to play the most entertaining game of "what if?" there is, especially if you love classic tales, pop songs and sensational musicals. Whether you studied it in high school or just obsessed over Baz Luhrmann's glorious 90s movie, everyone knows how Romeo and Juliet ends — and it doesn't conclude happily for either of its eponymous star-crossed lovers. But what if it didn't wrap up that way? What if Juliet lived to love again? And what if her experiences from there, after thwarting theatre's greatest tragedy, involved a whole heap of earworm tunes from the last couple of decades?

The answer to how all of that might turn out already exists, all thanks to Olivier Award-winning jukebox musical & Juliet. A hit in London's West End since 2019, it remixes the iconic love story in multiple ways — tinkering with its narrative and throwing in all that toe-tapping music. And, the Shakespeare-meets-pop spectacle is playing Sydney Lyric Theatre from Tuesday, February 27 — including preview performances from Tuesday, February 27–Wednesday, March 6 for $79.

If you're now thinking "wherefore art thou?" about & Juliet's setup, it picks up after the ending we all know doesn't eventuate. And, it muses on what might happen if Juliet could choose her own fate instead. That scenario involves Anne Hathaway — no, not that one — and her husband William Shakespeare, and features songs by Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Robyn, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, Kelly Clarkson and more.

Tunes that get a spin: 'Larger Than Life', 'I Want It That Way', '... Baby One More Time', 'Show Me Love', 'Oops!... I Did It Again', 'As Long As You Love Me', 'Stronger', 'I Kissed a Girl', 'Since U Been Gone', 'It's My Life', 'It's Gonna Be Me' and a whole heap of others. The common factor between them all is Swedish songwriter Max Martin, who penned or co-penned every track on the musical's soundtrack.

As well as Martin's involvement — including as one of & Juliet's co-creators — the musical features a book by the Emmy-winning Schitt's Creek writer and The Big Door Prize creator David West Read.

And if you're wondering about the show's shiny Olivier Awards, it was nominated for nine for its West End debut season, and nabbed three: for Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Down Under, Lorinda May Merrypor plays Juliet, while Rob Mills is Shakespeare, Amy Lehpamer steps into Anne's shoes and Blake Appelqvist gets his Romeo on. Also in the cast: Casey Donovan, Hayden Tee, Jesse Dutlow, Yashith Fernando, Georgia Anderson, Jade Delmiguez, James Elmer, Riley Gill, Jerome Javier, Giorgia Kennedy, Jordan Koulos and more.

Images: Daniel Boud.

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