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Review Roundup: & JULIET Brings The Music of Max Martin To Broadway

& Juliet features timeless pop hits "Since U Been Gone," "Roar," "Baby One More Time," "Larger Than Life," "That's The Way It Is," "Can't Stop the Feeling," and more.

The highly anticipated new musical & Juliet opens tonight on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (124 West 43rd Street). Read the reviews!

The new musical features songs by the legendary and Grammy-winning songwriter/producer Max Martin, a book by the Emmy-winning writer from "Schitt's Creek," David West Read, direction by Luke Sheppard and choreography by Emmy-Award winner Jennifer Weber.

The full company of & Juliet includes Brandon Antonio (Broadway Debut), Michael Iván Carrier (Broadway Debut), Nico DeJesus, Nicholas Edwards, Virgil Gadson, Bobby "Pocket" Horner (Broadway Debut), Joomin Hwang, Megan Kane (Broadway Debut), Alaina Vi Maderal (Broadway Debut), Daniel J. Maldonado (Broadway Debut), Joe Moeller (Broadway Debut), Brittany Nicholas, Veronica Otim, Jasmine Rafael (Broadway Debut), Matt Raffy (Broadway Debut), Tiernan Tunnicliffe (Broadway Debut) and Rachel Webb (Broadway Debut). They join the previously announced cast members Lorna Courtney, making her Broadway principal debut as 'Juliet,' Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot as 'Lance,' Betsy Wolfe as 'Anne Hathaway,' Tony Award nominee Stark Sands as 'Shakespeare,' Justin David Sullivan as 'May,' (Broadway Debut), Melanie La Barrie as 'Angelique' (who makes her Broadway debut reprising the role she originated in the West End), Ben Jackson Walker as 'Romeo (Broadway Debut), and Philippe Arroyo as 'Francois' (Broadway Debut).

& Juliet flips the script on the greatest love story ever told, imagining what would happen next if Juliet hadn't ended it all over Romeo, and got a second chance at life and love - on her terms. Juliet's new story bursts to life through a playlist of pop anthems as iconic as her name, all written by Max Martin and his collaborators, including "Since U Been Gone," "Roar," "Baby One More Time," "Larger Than Life," "That's The Way It Is," "Can't Stop the Feeling," and many more.


Jesse Green, The New York Times: What saves "& Juliet" from being a lowest-common-denominator corporate byproduct is something else, something I never expected: wit.The wit operates on many levels in the director Luke Sheppard's super-poppy production, including hilarious hybrid Elizabethan costumes (by Paloma Young) that feature a codpiece the size of a snapping turtle, cotton-candy lighting (by Howard Hudson) and playful sets (by Soutra Gilmour) situating the story in a century somehow combining the 16th and ours.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Luke Sheppard's direction of his actors effectively showcases many of the more appealing quirks in Read's characters. When Read's book turns conventional with the nonbinary May, Sheppard turns on the automatic pilot to strand Sullivan in a swamp of schmaltz. Unfortunately, that sticky morass claims many more victims in Act 2. Why do sophisticated TV and film writers resort to hackneyed tropes when they write for the musical stage? Rather than continuing to lampoon the treacly bombast of most new musicals, writers like Read and Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous") fall prey to it. Even the Hathaway character turns into a Celine Dion manqué, right down to the Vegas echo-chamber amplification to deliver "That's the Way It Is" as some kind of anthem of oppression.

Christian Lewis, Variety: All this could have come across as a high school English class assignment, but Read manages to make it work. He clearly has respect for and knowledge of the source material but also isn't afraid to highlight just how ridiculous the play really is. (As we are reminded here, Romeo and Juliet only knew each other for four days.) Though he keeps the characters true to the original, there are slight tweaks for modern sensibility, as when Anne brings Juliet's age up from 13 (yikes) to her mid-20s.

Jackson McHenry, Vulture: If you were to adapt the feeling of getting day-drunk on cheap rosé for the stage, you'd get & Juliet. The aggressively effervescent musical has come to Broadway, & it intends to wash you away in the blushy delights of pop feminism & hit singles & middle-school-level Shakespeare jokes. At times, such as when someone belts the chorus of "Since U Been Gone" at you, it is impossible not to feel intoxicated. & at others, such as when any character tries to explain any part of this show's plot, you may feel as if the world has started to spin desperately out of control. You may shout "Woo!" & you may feel queasy. You'll have that ephemeral thrill of being alive on a dance floor & end up with a hangover.

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: As much as the show feels directed toward a strenuously young demographic - some of them possibly not even born yet when Backstreet were singing about their fire, or their one desire - the script makes several knowing nods, much like a Pixar movie, to the ancient grown-ups in the room. There's something a little relentless about & Juliet's dogged eagerness to entertain, but nakedly joyful too: a violent delight, flipped for the TikTok era. Grade: B+

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: "Keep it light, keep it tight, keep it fun, and then we're done!" That's the pithy advice that the indignant 16th-century housewife Anne Hathaway (Betsy Wolfe) imparts to her neglectful husband, William Shakespeare (Stark Sands), as a way to improve his play Romeo and Juliet, which she considers too much of a downer. It is also the guiding ethos of the new Broadway jukebox musical & Juliet, a quasi-Elizabethan romp through the chart-toppers of Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin. A diverting synthetic crossbreed of Moulin Rouge!, Something Rotten!, Mamma Mia! and Head Over Heels, this show delivers just what you'd expect. It is what it is: It gives you the hooks and it gets the ovations.

Greg Evans, Deadline: It's not that & Juliet is unenjoyable - it isn't. Somewhere beneath the bombast and repetition and overwrought-from-minute-one approach is a sweet(ish) and smart(ish) tale that gives voice to the marginalized and, not incidentally, provides fans of the music of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Kesha, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Pink and Justin Timberlake a chance to hear their favorite songs in a musical that makes no secret of its identity: A jukebox takes early pride of place on the set.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: This setup happens with surprising speed and economy. The early zippy energy is a big plus. Vibrant visuals are another. Director Luke Sheppard's staging makes great use of projections, flying set pieces, and a levitating circular platform to showcase dramatic moments and athletic dance moves by choreographer Jennifer Weber.

Chris Jones, The New York Daily News: Enter "& Juliet," a savvy if stunningly unsubtle mashup of a musical from London that aims to redress that balance for Broadway fun and profit. This nonstop party-empowerment show gets its theme of feminist revisionist British history from "Six," its Shakespearean humor from "Something Rotten," its nonbinary savvy from "Head Over Heels," and its collage-like spectacle from "Moulin Rouge."

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: This sporadically fun musical from - where else! - Great Britain with a loony book by David West Read suggests this idea is somehow very feminist; that taking a dagger for your poisoned man is the ultimate failure of the Bechdel test. A bit self-righteous coming from a show that includes "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It" by Katy Perry, dontcha think? The key to enjoying yourself at "& Juliet" - and it is, indeed, an empty-headed good time - is to ignore the plot entirely and pretend you're at a concert. And to have the bartender fill your souvenir sippy cup right to the rim with your booze of choice.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: The Bard takes a back seat to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears in "& Juliet," a jukebox musical that is being billed as a sequel to Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," imagining Juliet's life if she hadn't killed herself when Romeo did. The plot winds up more busy and berserk than that description, and, in any case, the show is primarily a vehicle for the hits of Max Martin.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Mix the single-artist salute Mamma Mia! with the contempo-pop stylings of Moulin Rouge!; add a healthy dose of the Shakespeare-themed Something Rotten, and a sprinkle of the Renaissance-grrl-powered Six... and you've got some idea of what's in store for you at & Juliet, the candy-colored glitter bomb of a show that just opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. But & Juliet-a jukebox musical built around 30 megahits/earworms from Swedish songwriter and super-producer Max Martin (he's masterminded songs made famous by the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Jessie J, Demi Lovato, and more)-is very much its own thing in so many wild and wonderful ways.

Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: If you're anything like me, you probably haven't spent a lot of time wondering why Juliet had to die at the conclusion of Shakespeare's classic Romeo & Juliet. But the creators of the new Broadway musical & Juliet apparently have, resulting in the latest of what seems like an endless torrent of jukebox musicals. Fortunately, this effort featuring dozens of earworm-heavy smash hits by pop composer/producer Max Martin (a name you may not know, but you'll have no trouble recognizing his songs) and his various collaborators provides the sort of infectious silliness that makes for a very enjoyable evening, provided that you leave your brains at the door.

To read more reviews, click here!


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