Q&A with Miriam-Teak Lee from & Juliet
| By Jade Ali
Usually, Juliet Capulet is known as being one half of a whole. Her tale is always told in relation to Romeo; their tragic tale being one of the most popular in the world. Shakespeare penned the classic story of Romeo & Juliet over 400 years ago and it is still considered to be the greatest love story of all time. & Juliet is here to bring you the reimagining you never knew you needed and tell you all about our heroine and how she got a life!
This all-new musical & Juliet is set to hit the West End later this year when it transfers from Manchester’s Palace Theatre to London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, beginning 2 November. After having seen a preview earlier this year, we at London Theatre Direct are excited for this epic tale of one of history’s most famous fictional female characters finally telling her own story. And if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, the soundtrack will be made up of the best pop songs of our time from the legend that is Max Martin.
Luckily, I got to talk to the leading lady, Miriam-Teak Lee, herself for some quick questions. Read below about what she had to say about the West End’s soon to be smash hit musical & Juliet.
Q&A with & Juliet leading lady Miriam-Teak Lee
1. This brilliant new musical has an amazing story, crazy cool songs and a superb cast too! What aspect of & Juliet are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to exploring the notion of self-discovery. In what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, truly comfortable. Juliet has only ever been defined as being in the package deal that is “Romeo & Juliet” so to be able to explore Juliet as her own entity with the help of her Nurse and her friends who are willing her along the whole way is empowering! And to do this with the exceptional cast that I have is just an honour. AND being able to sing banger after banger by Max Martin in the new killer arrangements by Bill Sherman and Dominic Fallacaro. Every day at work is just the dream!
2. Speaking of a superb cast, which of your new cast members are you excited to work with and why?
First of all, the entire cast is Stellar!! They each inspire me in different ways, Mel La Barrie playing the Nurse is such a legend, we have such a beautiful natural bond in our scenes. She is so nurturing and funny and so very wise; it just warms my heart every time I have a scene with her. Tim Mahendran who plays Francois is literally like a brother to me, he’s so hilarious, his comic timing is unbelievable, it’s hard to not genuinely cry with laughter in a scene with him, and he matches me on my crazy scale so there’s never a dull moment when we’re together. But honestly, I could literally go through the entire cast and tell you why I’m in love and inspired and in awe of each and every one of them. I just can’t wait for everyone to see this show, the undeniable bond and love we have for each other just permeate through on that stage and you’ll see!
3. The workshop I attended induced my excitement for the show tenfold, but as that was just the beginning of & Juliet, are there any surprises in store that you can tell us about?
There are definitely some surprises coming through, maybe some new songs, maybe some new scenes, but I can’t tell you the details! I will tell you this though, being able to have that luxury of doing a workshop and performing a version of our show to you guys was such a great experience for us. It told us so much about what works, what doesn’t work, what we can still change, what audiences connect with, what makes them smile and really care for each of the characters. It allowed us to have an open dialogue with our audiences since we don’t always have that privilege, and we, of course, want you to be happy, so it was a great way to make sure we were meeting those needs and wants of our audiences.
4. Everyone knows Max Martin’s songs, but don’t know he’s the name behind them, were you aware of him before you got involved with & Juliet? And why should others be aware of Max Martin too?
I actually hadn’t heard of him before I started & Juliet but I googled him and quite quickly it was evident he was a pretty big deal! To think that he is responsible for writing all of these incredible number one hits is just amazing, and the fact that we now as the cast of & Juliet get to sing these songs and breathe new life into them is an absolute dream. Others need to be aware of Max Martin because he an absolute genius and legend!
5. A lot of people are probably wondering how these huge pop songs work on a Shakespeare (sort of) tale, why do you think they work?
The greatest works are mixtures of genres/ideas that make people wonder if they’ll work. And it’s because the connection isn’t obvious on the surface, but it is absolutely there. Shakespeare was the greatest Pop writer of his time and Max Martin is one of, if not THE greatest pop writer of our time. They work because they both speak to the soul of our audiences, of all different ages. It’s relatable and current, yet timeless at the same time, when everything clicks in this show, it’s just magic.
6. What’s one song that is in the show that you’d like to sing, that you’re not already?
Ariana Grande – Break Free, I love that song, but Mel La Barrie and David Badella have it… Lucky! They absolutely smash it though so I can’t even be mad!
7. Top 3 favourite Max Martin songs (don’t have to be included in the show)?
Roar – Katy Perry
Domino – Jessie J
And the new song by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber – I Don’t Care (Max Martin helped write that and it’s literally my favourite song right now!)
8. Romeo & Juliets. & Juliet… why is & Juliet worth seeing and what do you think of the twist on this classic tragedy?
It is so worth seeing because it’s a relatable story. Being scared of stepping into something on your own, having the courage to love yourself in your own skin. Against all odds, making the decision to be more than just your family name. Juliet is more than a Capulet; she will not be defined as such or be forced to fit the mould just because society dictates it. This twist on Romeo and Juliet will leave audiences inspired and uplifted. And if there are tears, it’s from the sheer strength they’ve now realized they have, to get up and do anything they’ve ever dreamed of.
9. Girl power shows are very popular in the West End right now, with the likes of Waitress, Six and Emilia, why do you think strong feminist shows are important?
Women have always been powerful; they’ve just been told by a patriarchal society to suppress it. It’s just amazing that we can finally portray women as they are.
10. If you could put a similar twist on any other Shakespeare play, & Juliet style, which would it be and why?
It would have to be Macbeth! That is already my favourite Shakespeare play because Lady Macbeth is an absolute badass, but I’d love a version where it’s called Lady Macbeth, and we focus in on her story more. That’s a show I could get behind for sure!
11. & Juliet is going to turn the West End pink, but other than the most pleasing aesthetics, sum up in three words why everyone needs to see the show?
I have two groups of three… sorry! Come and see this show because it will be: EMPOWERING AND INSPIRING! YOU WON’T REGRET!
Be sure to get your & Juliet tickets coming to London’s Shaftesbury Theatre this winter and secure the best seats with us before they’re all gone! If you're too excited to wait, then be sure to get to West End Live this year for a preview!
🎫 Book your & Juliet tickets here.