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THE SCOOP | Key Toronto Connections As ‘& Juliet’ Heads For Broadway In Autumn 2022

By Anya Wassenberg on July 8, 2022

The Company performs & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
The Company performs & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

A hit show with music by Max Martin is heading from its North American premiere in Toronto directly to Broadway.

& Juliet uses the music of Max Martin to tell a new story based on Shakespeare’s classic, from a book written by a Toronto native. While the Swede’s name may still be unfamiliar to many, his music undoubtedly is not. Martin is the songwriter and producer responsible for many massive radio hits from the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. He’s won five Grammy Awards. Those hits form the music for the show.

Currently in its North American premiere run at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, the production has been running in London’s West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre since 2019. It’s been nominated for 9 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, and a record-setting 13 WhatsOnStage Awards.

The show will transfer directly to Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre on October 28, with an opening date of November 17, 2022.

(L-R) Joomin Hwang, Rachel Webb, Bobby "Pocket" Horner, Lorna Courtney, Virgil Gadson in & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
(L-R) Joomin Hwang, Rachel Webb, Bobby “Pocket” Horner, Lorna Courtney, Virgil Gadson in & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

David West Read

Instead of Hamlet’s traditionally Shakespearean tale with its gloomy philosophy about indecision and inaction, & Juliet focuses on a story about self-discovery and love. In this version, Juliet lives on to get a second chance at life.

The book for the hit show was written by David West Read. While the Toronto native has made Los Angeles his home for years, Read played a key role in the landmark Canadian TV series Schitt’s Creek, where he served as a writer and executive producer. Among his other works, he’s creator and showrunner for The Big Door Prize (Skydance Television/CJ ENM/Studio Dragon), an upcoming series to be broadcast on Apple TV+.

Read admits in an interview with CityNews that when he was originally contacted to work with Martin, he had no idea of the songwriter’s enormous influence on modern pop. Martin’s songs, originally written for various pop icons, get a reinterpreted version in the story. It turns Perry’s iconic I Kissed A Girl into a genuine expression of queer love.

“I made a rule early on that I wasn’t going to change any of the lyrics other than pronouns or things like that,” Read said. “We had to really make them work and make it seem like every song was written for the show. It was a big part of the challenge of the puzzle.”

The Company performs & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
The Company performs & Juliet (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

The show

& Juliet is directed by Luke Sheppard, with choreography by Emmy Award-winner Jennifer Weber. The full creative team from the West End production follows it from Toronto to New York City. Max Martin, aka Karl Martin Sandberg, is co-producing the Broadway show, along with wife Jenny Petersson and others.

Lorna Courtney plays the key role of Juliet, and will continue in the role.

Toronto cast members who will join her include Tony Award-winner Paulo Szot as ‘Lance,’ Betsy Wolfe as ‘Anne Hathaway’ (Shakespeare’s wife), Tony Award nominee Stark Sands as ‘Shakespeare,’ Justin David Sullivan as ‘May,’ Melanie La Barrie (who originated the role in the West End) as ‘Nurse’, Ben Jackson Walker as ‘Romeo’ and Philippe Arroyo as ‘Francois’.

In February 2023, & Juliet will premiere in Australia at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne. Tickets to the Broadway production are already on sale.


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