And Juliet review

And Juliet review

And Juliet Review - Broadway musical

They don’t even bother to hide the jukebox. It’s right there, out in the open, before the show starts: a chrome Cyclops glowering at you from the stage of the Stephen Sondheim Theater, of all places.

Are you daring me, “& Juliet”?

I have done everything a critic can do to stamp out the jukebox musical. I’ve called it a cockroach, a straitjacket, a leech, a dead fish. I’ve argued that, with few exceptions, it’s a form that’s satisfactory neither as music nor as theater, let alone the combination. 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.

This even though “& Juliet,” which opened Thursday on Broadway after establishing itself as a hit in London, trails the faint odor of carpetbagging and brand extension that makes other examples of the genre — “Motown: The Musical,” “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” and the inexcusable “Escape to Margaritaville” — so dispiriting. The show’s entire reason for being, after all, is to exploit the back catalog of Max Martin, the Swedish hitmaker behind Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and 24 other No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1998.

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.
Last Update:November, 21st 2023

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