Strong Female Voices: An In-Depth Look at the Empowering Characters and Creators of & Juliet
As Broadway’s offerings expand and diversify, so too should its representation–both on stage and behind the scenes. Many of today’s most successful and moving productions—The Lion King (Julie Taymor), Kimberly Akimbo (Jessica Stone), SIX (Lucy Moss), etc.—are led by women. In an industry historically dominated by men, the rise in the number of female creatives and characters is a refreshing and necessary change.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the modern Broadway spectacle, & Juliet. This show brilliantly illustrates the power of a female-led narrative, underscored by the creative approaches of women off-stage. It is a stellar example of the kind of work that can be produced when women are shaping their own stories.
& Juliet is a hilarious, lively musical that rewrites the ending of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. In this exciting production, the character Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, decides to change the narrative and give Juliet a chance to live. She takes up the quill and writes a new tale, one where Juliet doesn’t die for love but instead embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
The renewed tale centers on a young woman making her own choices and stepping out of the shadows of her family, suitor, and the community of her small town. Juliet’s new experiences, from exploring the city of Paris to meeting new friends, show her that there is a whole wide world beyond Verona’s walls, and she must not be confined within the short and tragic plot initially given to her by Shakespeare. In this Juliet, we finally see a young woman stepping into her power and embracing the endless possibilities the world has to offer.
Female Cast Members’ Impact on the Show
The strength of the show is further bolstered by its talented female cast. Lorna Courtney takes on the role of Juliet after being praised for her portrayal of the character in the Toronto production. Courtney has previously showcased her talents in shows such as Dear Evan Hansen and West Side Story.
When sharing how her character’s journey resonates with her, Lorna emphasizes, “It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to pick yourself up and try again.” This resilience is a core part of Juliet’s growth throughout the show, as she learns to love herself and understand the value of her own life. Courtney’s reflections on Juliet’s journey mirror an important truth faced by women in society today. In a world that often expects women to strive for perfection in looks, behavior, personal relationships, and so on, the notion of not being ideal and having a right to scrap the old ‘you’ and start over is often intimidating.
Courtney’s personal journey to Broadway is a tale of grit and persistence in itself. She shares, “All throughout my life if I had an idea and I felt strongly about it, I was always working on getting to that goal. I didn’t have many resources easily available and easily accessible, but I would use what I had.” Courtney’s experiences of finding herself and following her dreams add a layer of authenticity to her portrayal of Juliet.
Betsy Wolfe, who plays Anne Hathaway, is another critical figure in the cast. Known for her roles in notable productions like Waitress and Falsettos, Wolfe brings a sense of maturity and depth to Hathaway. She effectively portrays a woman who is unafraid to challenge the status quo and rewrite her story, mirroring the arc of the main heroine.
Known historically as nothing more than Shakespeare’s wife, & Juliet’s Hathaway is a woman of intellect and creativity who, like Juliet, refuses to be defined by societal norms and expectations. Hathaway’s character takes control of the narrative, literally rewriting Juliet’s tragic ending into a ‘lesson learned.’ This narrative shift cleverly draws a parallel between Hathaway and Juliet – both women breaking free from the confines of their prescribed roles, one in fiction and the other in history.
Melanie La Barrie, who plays the Nurse, brings a touch of humor and warmth to the show, providing an essential balance to the narrative. La Barrie’s past work in productions like Wicked and Les Misérables has showcased her ability to deliver nuanced and compelling performances.
The Women Behind the Scenes of & Juliet
A powerful team of women has significantly contributed to the show’s creation and success. Four women in particular occupy several central positions in the production, each bringing their unique talents and perspectives to the table.
Eva Price,a three-time Tony Award-winning executive producer, has been instrumental in guiding and shaping the overall direction of the show. Her wealth of experience (Jagged Little Pill, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) and keen understanding of Broadway productions have been crucial in bringing the musical to life on stage.
Jennifer Weber, the show’s choreographer, got the show its Tony Award nomination for best choreography. Her two Broadway debuts–& Juliet and KPOP–opened less than a week apart in 2022. Her innovative choreography breathes life into the narrative, adding depth and dimension to the story.
Costume designer Paloma Young (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) and scenic designer Soutra Gilmour (Antigone, Urinetown: The Musical) have masterfully created the visual landscape of the musical. Both women have used their creative genius to craft a visually stunning world of youthfulness, fun, romance, and girl power.
The Empowering Message of & Juliet
Experience the energy, powerful performances, and revived narrative that makes this show a standout production on Broadway. But don’t just go alone – take your daughter, your younger sister, your female students. Let them see a show where women are not side characters or love interests but the protagonists of their own stories.
& Juliet is more than just entertainment, it is an exercise in self-discovery. The show illustrates so beautifully that when women are given, the space and opportunity to shine, they create something truly extraordinary.