Indigenous star leads local adaptation of hit Broadway show

The musical was written by David West Read, an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of Schitt’s Coveand imagines a scenario in which Juliet does not die at the end of the original work, but instead embarks on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, freed from the conservative norms of the time.

The true genesis of the production was the music of Max Martin, the prolific Swedish songwriter who has written or co-written 25 Billboard number one songs, including …Drink one more time by Britney Spears, i kissed a girl by Katy Perry and Pink’s They raise their glasses.

Martin’s back catalog consists of and Juliet soundtrack, featuring some of the world’s most iconic pop songs used to both skewer and celebrate Shakespeare’s interpretation of Juliet and the story of the original play.

“I think …Drink one more time It’s the one I’m probably most excited about because of the way it fits into the story and the arrangement they’ve made,” says Merrypor. “It is very dramatic. It’s almost like a ballad for Juliet.”

Merrypor graduated from the Queensland Conservatory in 2016 and recently performed in a touring production of The Sapphires. and juliet It will be her debut leading role, and she describes it as a “dream.”

“Every woman has this dream of being fully capable of being herself in any circumstance and taking control of the situations she finds herself in. So it’s really exciting to be able to address that. It’s something I’m working towards in my personal life, to have that agency.

“I think this show will be very inspiring for many girls growing up”: Lorinda May Merrypor

“I think this show will be very inspiring for many girls growing up”: Lorinda May Merrypor Credit:eugene hyland

“I feel like this is a role that I’m going to bring a lot of myself to, it feels very close to home and even throughout the audition process, I had a Zoom with Luke Sheppard, the director, and he was very much saying to me, ‘Sing it. like you, we want to hear Lorinda’. It’s amazing to be able to bring so much of myself to a role.”

“I met a wide variety of people,” says Sheppard, who directed and juliet in London’s West End, Toronto and Broadway, as well as British productions of Rent Y In the heights. “But from the moment Lorinda began to sing …Drink one more time I just remember saying, yeah, that’s it.”


the casting of the and juliet productions running in London and Broadway have been praised for their focus on diversityBut Sheppard says that inclusivity on stage is a “constant journey” and the creative team isn’t the type to pat each other on the back when it comes to performance.”

“For me, it’s as simple as representing the world we live in today, and that’s why I was particularly excited to be working with the Michael Cassel Group, because I know that’s incredibly important to them, as well as [having] an understanding that inclusion and diversity mean something different in every part of the world.”

The casting of an indigenous woman as the lead in such a high-profile production remains rare in Australian theatre, and is something Merrypor has been thinking about ever since she joined the production.

“If I were to go and see an indigenous woman playing the lead in a musical that I was watching as a teenager, yes, I would absolutely cry. Because that representation would mean a lot to me.

“I think this show will be very inspiring for many girls growing up. To have a role model like Juliet, taking charge of her own life and story, is very inspiring.”

The author traveled to New York City to see the Broadway production of & Juliet. Flights and accommodation were courtesy of the Michael Cassel Group.

and juliet debuts in February 2023 at The Regent Theater in Melbourne. Tickets are now on sale.

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