Reviews for & JULIET Are In…

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It was a mixed bag of reviews for & Juliet, the new modern jukebox reimagining of how one of Shakespeare’s most famous women might have gone on. Featuring a score of well-known hits by Max Martin that any millennial will know and love, and a silly and simple plot – this is jukebox fluff at its fluffiest, with a basic blend of feminist confetti thrown on top. Love it or hate it, the show is “Larger Than Life,” which you’ll either see as “F****n’ Perfect” or worthy of a skip.

Time Out Review for & Juliet

“Keep it light, keep it tight, keep it fun, and then we’re done!” … 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. … As a compilation disc performed live, it’s a feast for Millennials; its alternate title might well be Now That’s What I Call a Musical! Along with these bangers, there is mash. Book writer David West Read (Schitt’s Creek) connects the dots of the musical numbers into the loose shape of a feminist journey, safely nested in metatheatrical and anachronistic quotation marks.

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New York Post Review for & Juliet

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. Making projecting your mind to MSG easy is the suite of pop songs by Max Martin, the producer responsible for boffo hits sung by Britney Spears, Perry, the Backstreet Boys, Céline Dion and others. Many of those radio favorites are crammed in here. Martin had a lot of No. 1 singles, but his bounty — narratively, emotionally, musically — is not as boundless as the sea. … But unlike the substantial story arcs of ABBA songs used in “Mamma Mia!” or the much more artful pop of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” (Elton John, David Bowie, Lady Gaga) a few blocks away, Martin’s music is frustratingly vague and static. With 29 of his songs strung together and orchestrated to sound roughly the same, the effect can be mind-numbing.

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Variety Review for & Juliet

Shakespeare’s Juliet singing Britney Spears’ “Oops…I Did It Again” is certainly a surprising and unexpected juxtaposition.  While there is every reason to be skeptical of a Shakespearean jukebox musical, “& Juliet” makes it work remarkably well. It’s the most fun you’ll have in a Broadway theater right now. … [Max Martin’s] catalog is unquestionably impressive — and his songs make for a surprisingly fantastic jukebox musical. … [Book writer David West Read] clearly has respect for and knowledge of the source material but also isn’t afraid to highlight just how ridiculous the play really is. … “& Juliet” has big “yaaaas!” energy — which the script admits, references and pokes fun at. Perhaps it’s fine that the musical doesn’t offer a new, complex or fully coherent take on gender, authorship or agency; it doesn’t have to be that deep. “& Juliet” is exactly the show Broadway needs right now: fun, exuberant, supremely joyful, hilarious, and excellently performed by a talented and diverse cast.

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Deadline Review for & Juliet

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. … [P]resented together [Max Martin’s songs], one after another after another, the songs can move from inspirational to browbeating in record time. And they do. … Tying the various Martin-written songs together is Read’s book, a pastiche that shows very little of the edge that Read and his fellow writers brought the subversive Schitt’s Creek. Here, Read has fashioned a sort of instructional guide to feminism, self-destiny, empowerment and chosen identity, worthy topics all but here rendered with the subtlety of a middle school pep rally.

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New York Times Review for & Juliet

I’ve stood proudly, even among my colleagues, as a denier of everything that shows like “& Juliet” typically stand for. So shoot me: I liked it. It felt so wrong; it felt so right. … That the songs are good to begin with — chunky, hooky, belty, dancy — is neither here nor there; they generally are, in shows like this, or there would be no audience to pander to. Also par for the course is the way “& Juliet” wedges them into unlikely contexts, aiming for laughs that are little more than Pavlovian reactions to anticipated familiarity. What saves “& Juliet” from being a lowest-common-denominator corporate byproduct is something else, something I never expected: wit. … Jukebox musicals may still be bottom feeders, but, as “& Juliet” proves, there are sometimes small treasures to be found in the murk. 

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