In Max Martin’s pop-heavy West End show, Juliet picks up the dagger and… gets a life.
Shakespeare’s story of Romeo & Juliet has long been held up as the last word in romance – although, quite honestly, it’s not easy to see why. A 13-year-old girl (as Old Capulet says to Paris, ‘she hath not seen the change of fourteen years’) falls for an older teenage boy who is still reeling after being unceremoniously dumped by his ex, Rosaline. He creeps around in her garden, eavesdrops on her private musings, and flatters the pre-teen until he forces her to say the big ILY just two hours after their first meeting.
Things get even more problematic from there. Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin, convinces her to marry him against her family’s wishes (can you blame them for being overly cautious?), and the pair spark a bloody civil war in the process. Come the end of the play, Juliet has decided that the best course of action is to fake her own death. Due to a breakdown in 16th century communications, though, Romeo gets confused about the plan and kills himself for real. And, upon seeing his body, a bitterly disappointed Juliet takes her own life.
Hmm. It’s all ever so romantic, isn’t it? No wonder, then, that pop mastermind Max Martin has decided to reinvent the story for the 21st century.
That’s right: Martin, who has written songs for singers including Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Westlife, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, has penned a new musical called & Juliet, which examines what might have happened if the titular heroine didn’t die at the end of the Bard’s play.
And the first thing on our living and breathing heroine’s agenda? A trip to Paris with her best friends, in a bid to try to recover from the death of her soulmate.
“What if Juliet’s famous ending was really just her beginning?” reads the play’s slogan. “What if she decided to choose her own fate?
“It’s time to rewrite her story in… #AndJuliet.”
Miriam-Teak Lee will take on the role of Juliet following her performances in the original London cast of Hamilton, in which she played cover Angelica/Eliza/Peggy (aka the Schuyler Sisters), and she will be belting out such mammoth hits as Baby One More Time, Love Me Like You Do, and I Can’t Feel My Face.
She announced the news via her own Twitter, writing: “Ahhh! The news is out and I can finally announce that I will be starring as Juliet in the brand new #MaxMartin musical &JULIET.
“I cannot wait for this next venture, and I am so humbled to have been given this opportunity. Now, let’s get it!!!!”
Meanwhile, Luke Sheppard (In the Heights) has been confirmed as the piece’s director.
“Somehow we’ve kept this secret for two years, over three workshops in different cities, and I can’t wait to get it out into the world,” he tweeted.
“Here we go @MiriamTeakLee!”
& Juliet opens at the Manchester Opera House and runs from Tuesday 10 September to Saturday 12 October before arriving in London. It will run at the Shaftesbury Theatre from 2 November, with an opening night on 20 November.
Tickets will go on sale on the 11 February. Anyone else excited?
Image credit: 20th Century Fox / Handout/ Getty