How the ‘& Juliet’ creative team fine-tuned the Broadway design
The creative team behind Broadway's & Juliet shares how the show transformed from London's West End with amped-up choreography, sound, and lighting design.
This season, several shows premiered on the West End before coming to Broadway, including & Juliet, the jukebox musical featuring hit songs from powerhouse music producer/songwriter Max Martin’s catalog. . & Juliet, featuring a book by David West Read, flips the script on Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo & Juliet and reimagines the classic tale for a modern audience. In this feminist version, Juliet drops the dagger and chooses to live. The eponymous heroine ventures from fair Verona to Paris with her girlfriends, confidently stepping into a new chapter post-Romeo.
& Juliet opened at the Manchester Opera House in 2019 before transferring to the West End in 2020. Then, it went to Toronto and Broadway in 2022, receiving nine Tony Awards nominations, including for Best Musical. For the show’s transfer to Broadway, the creative team honed in on the narrative storytelling and the audience experience through design elements.
For Gareth Owen, the show’s Tony-nominated sound designer, the transfer across the pond allowed the sound team to fine-tune the design. “& Juliet Broadway is a more polished, refined version of the London production as far as sound is concerned,” said Owen.
The team pushed boundaries in London and tried several techniques for sound design. The team scrapped the failures for the Broadway iteration and further improved the successes. “The result is a much more cohesive overall picture — a sonic landscape that threads through the show from one end to the other with a definite purpose, as opposed to London, where we were often trying to be clever simply for the sake of it,” conceded Owen.
Dominic Fallacaro and Bill Sherman, nominated for Best Orchestrations, tuned up the storytelling for the Broadway transfer. “There were some small musical tweaks and upgrades, from cutting a few bars here to changing a string line there,” said Fallacaro. “Ultimately, it's about serving the narrative the best and thinking about all the creative musical ways you can amp up the storytelling.”
The show features chart-toppers from the past few decades, including “...Baby One More Time,” “Since U Been Gone,” and “I Want It That Way,” which cleverly lend themselves to a new storyline of empowerment, self-acceptance, and love.
Sherman added, “The creative team definitely tightened some narrative screws before Broadway, including song cuts and character refinement. In addition, we continued to find new ways to bring Max Martin's music to life.”
One noticeable change was with the showstopping number “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” which closes the show. The entire creative team worked together to drive the show home. “Along with our choreographer, Jennifer Weber, we workshopped hits and breaks into that number to maximize the explosive choreography and leave the show on an extra high note,” said Fallacaro. (Not just one, but two explosive confetti cannons extend that high note further.)
& Juliet’s lighting designer Howard Hudson also earned a Tony nomination. “Being able to work again on the show, having opened it in the West End, let us add another whole layer of detail,” said Hudson.
“Lighting-wise, when you leave a show, there’s always things with hindsight you think to yourself that you’d wish you’d done, and of course, we were able to make all those changes,” he said. “Broadway definitely feels more immersive as we tried to bring the piece into the auditorium more and really embrace the audience in the world of the show.”
For the entire creative team, the experience of bringing some of the greatest pop songs to the stage, and bringing the audience into the fun, has been gratifying. “Working on this project has brought me to the West End in London, Abbey Road, Manchester, Toronto, and now to Broadway, with some of the most talented creatives and artists, and I've loved it,” effused Fallacaro.
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