The jukebox musical of Swedish songwriter Max Martin’s hits had its press night on Wednesday
For once, I am ahead of the curve and posted my own review of & Juliet last week, giving it 9.5/10. Many critics agreed with the assessment following the press night on Wednesday 20th November. Gifting & Juliet a perfect 5 stars, WhatsOnStage’s Alex Wood cited the musical’s “unquenchable feel-good factor”; while Tim Bano of The Stage (again a flawless 5 stars) dubbed it the “apotheosis” of the jukebox musical. The Independent’s Alexandra Pollard in a four-star review delighted into the shoehorning of songs into the musical, commending the performers on their earnest commitment to their anachronistic depictions. Further four-star reviews came from the Evening Standard, which noted the costumes and the unique niche & Juliet falls into, Time Out, which commended the anthemic score, and Gregory Robinson of The Guardian noted the message that “bubblegum pop, far from being manufactured filler, is a worthy accompaniment to the greatest of storytellers”.
Slightly less complimentary were reviews by London Theatre, which compared & Juliet (unfairly, in my view) to Broadway’s Moulin Rouge, and didn’t enjoy the relentless way in which pop songs were incorporated into David West Read’s book. Michael Billington for The Guardian gave a disappointing 2 stars, but also seems to dislike jukebox musicals in general, and refers to May as a cross-dressing guy. So I think that we can safely assess that Michael Billington has lost the plot, and also completely missed the point. Why The Guardian would bother sending somebody who obviously isn’t going to enjoy something to review it is anybody’s guess, but I suppose it bumped their readership up with the outrage it has caused.
There have been heaps of critical praise lavished upon & Juliet, which fills me with hope for its continued future – though its high ticket prices do also strike me as a potential downside, especially considering the announcement of Waitress’ closure earlier this week. Fingers crossed that the soundtrack, which was released on Friday, will entice enough people to come and see the dizzy fever dream that is & Juliet.
& Juliet is running at the Shaftesbury Theatre. You can purchase tickets here.