THEATRE REVIEW: & Juliet starring Keala Settle at the Shaftesbury Theatre

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHEN? matinee Saturday 2 April, booking until 24 September 2022 RUNTIME: 150 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

Settle (pictued above right with Miriam-Teak Lee) sang the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning This Is Me in Pasek and Paul‘s film The Greatest Showman and here makes her West End debut memorably.

  • Read on for reasons including why Settle’s casting is the F**kin’ Perfect reason to see this show

Settle plays the Nurse in this Max Martin jukebox musical with a book by David West Read who wrote the phenomenal US comedy Schitt’s Creek.

This is our 3rd visit to the show and we’re here because we love it and want to share it with our sister but also because we’re anticipating Settle will sprinkle a little stardust onto proceedings, we loved her in Showman and have never seen her on a stage before.

We 1st saw the show in previews in 2019 when Melanie La Barrie played the Nurse and we thought her very funny saying: ‘However, it was the relationships on the sidelines of the main story that we actually felt worked better than Juliet’s. David Bedella (In The Heights) and Melanie La Barrie are particularly funny as reunited lovers especially on Teenage Dream.’

We were back in October 2021 and again La Barrie and Teenage Dream were highlights with us saying: ‘I’m Not A Girl‘s chief competition for most memorable moment continues to come from the comic setpiece when Lance and the nurse played by a very funny Melanie La Barrie meet back up again after years apart in Teenage Dream.’

So what do you need to know about Settle’s Nurse? She’s acting with an English accent and it’s convincing. She’s a great comic actress but it’s the singing where she really excels.

At this preview Settle plays opposite Ivan De Freitas as the new Lance, Julius D’Silva, is absent. Teenage Dream is still a comic highlight but it is during the cover Of P!nk’s F**kin’ Perfect that Settle steals the show.

It’s one of the last songs and the Nurse sings it to show Juliet that even if her love life hasn’t gone quite to plan that our heroine is not at fault.

Settle sings it with such strength, power and conviction that it brings a tear to the eye, is absolutely in keeping with the girl power thrust of the show and we’re adding an extra 1/2* to our rating on the back of Settle’s appearance alone.

Tom Francis is the new Romeo and he has a tough act also to follow in Jordan Luke Gage and we felt he held his own in what is a terrific cast.

Back in October we assumed & Juliet was Broadway bound and with Settle’s arrival we felt transfer news would be imminent. But Settle has just been announced for Sister Act at the Eventim Apollo so, if it is going to transfer, it seems unlikely for a while just yet.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of seeing this show but not quite got around to it, Settle’s arrival with a sensational performance is a F**kin’ Perfect reason to do so.

  • Pictures by Johan Persson via Facebook courtesy & Juliet Tickets
  • Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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