5 Songs From & JULIET That Flip the Script on Pop Music 

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Lorna Courtney, Stark Sands, Betsy Wolfe, and cast of & Juliet | Photo: Jenny Anderson

Dan Meyer
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November 3, 2022 10:22 AM

There’s a new sound on Broadway—although millennials might know all the words. That’s right, the new musical & Juliet, featuring pop songs made famous by the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Kesha, and more, is now in previews at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Thankfully, there’s already an Original Broadway Cast Recording. With a score by Max Martin (who wrote hits like “Oops…I Did It Again”, “Teenage Dream”, and “It’s Gonna Be Me”), fans of pop music have plenty of earworms to enjoy.

The twist in & Juliet is that the songs are embedded into a brand new story of Romeo & Juliet that asks “what if Juliet didn’t kill herself in the end?” With that change in mind, Theatrely decided to pick the five songs that sound least like their original versions. Check it out below.

“I Want It That Way”
When Anne Hathaway (no not that one) reads William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, she is less than pleased. Rather than make this tune about five men singing their feelings in a massive airplane hangar to an invisible woman, the Backstreet Boys song is now a duet (sung by Betsy Wolfe and Stark Sands, no less) highlighting a creative partnership—and marriage—on the rocks.

“I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”
This song might be the most prolific contemporization in the musical. When May (Justin David Sullivan) finds themselves misgendered in a bathroom, they break out into this number. By framing the song through a non-binary interpretation, it shows what music can do with stories old and new.

Yes, there’s two Britney Spears songs on this list but only ONE of them incorporates a harpsichord. Sung by Francois (Phillipe Arroyo) and Juliet (Lorna Courtney), the song doesn’t really change in its lyrical interpretation like the other songs on this list, but it’s that instrumental shake-up that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

“Teenage Dream/Break Free”
What happens when you take two major bops from the 2010’s and turn them into a duet? You get double the fun, duh! Without giving too much away, the context behind this song is quite romantic, making both songs less about self-reflection and more of a direct address. It’s a fun twist that you don’t see coming.

“That’s the Way It Is”
Somehow, a stripped-down version of this Celine Dion empowerment anthem makes it even more potent. Sung by Anne Hathaway and Juliet towards the end of the show, the song maintains its “you can do it!” attitude. Don’t worry that incredible bridge is still there, too. 

& Juliet opens November 17. For more information and tickets, click here

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Dan Meyer

After 4 years in the biz, Dan swapped out theatre for sports and is now a researcher at NBC Olympics. Spectacle remains a key passion and is dedicated to building bridges between different forms of entertainment. He has worked as a writer and editor at Theatrely and Playbill, covering Broadway and beyond. In addition, he has been published in Rolling Stone, Spy, and others.