This is ensemble work of the highest order, an extraordinary compilation of diverse talents. The eight principal performers and the 18 strong company worked their magic from the outset to the finale.
The plot using the four-day teen romance of Romeo and Juliet, veers off into subplots including revisited romance between Angelique (Juliet's nurse) and Lance (father of Francois, Juliet's new love interest). Another diversion is the attraction between Francois and Juliet's friend May.
Energetic dance numbers abound. The hip hop choreography is as relentless as the list of 30 fabulous and familiar Max Martin numbers. Their clever inclusion ranges from hilarious parody, like Oops, I Did it Again, to heartfelt emotion, as in Shape of My Heart.
Strong voices abound. Sean Sinclair (filling in for Rob Mills on Opening Night) as Shakespeare, Amy Lehpamer as his wife Anne, Sara Murr (filling in for Casey Donovan) as Angelique, Hayden Tee as Lance, Jesse Dutlow as May, Yasith Fernando as Francois and Blake Appelqvist as Romeo, but none can match the absolutely outstanding Lorinda May Merrypor as Juliet.
She is barely offstage in this bouncy, riotious production. Her diminutive stature is perfect as the counterbalance to her growing strength of character and self-confidence. Her vocal power is undiminished despite the huge demands placed upon it.
The whole package is cleverly put together; the modern twist on the Shakespearean costumes, the scene changes, utilising sets that roll in on wheels or drop from above, the wonderful lighting designs with fun informative neon signs, the excellent band playing on cue in the wings.
Perth audiences can be fairly undemonstrative and are unused to audience participation so it was a delight to witness strenuous arm waving in time to Can't Stop the Feeling. Also a first was the sight of the whole audience rising to their feet, clapping and singing along to the final numbers I Want it that Way and Can't Stop the Feeling.
A happy, completely satisfied audience wended their way out of the theatre well in time for further New Year's Eve celebrations.
Michael Cassel Group in association with MTM/LEYLINE presents
music & lyrics Max Martin | book David West Read
Director Luke Sheppard
Venue: Crown Theatre Perth | Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA
Dates: 31 December 2023 – 8 February 2024