The captivating musical '& Juliet' has recently made its debut on Australian stages, bringing a fresh and vibrant energy to the theatrical scene this year.
Talented actress and proud Kuungkari and South Sea Islander women, Lorinda May Merrypor takes on the lead role as Juliet in the adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
In the modern retelling of the famous story, the focus is on Juliet's journey to uncover her authentic self and take control of her own destiny, as she works towards becoming the person she dreams of being.
"The role and the story were very close to home for me, I'm a twenty-something year old girl trying to figure things out," said Miss Merrypor.
"Juilet certainly goes on this journey where she wishes had it all figured out…but she kinda gets a rude awakening and I think everyone can kind of relate to that."
Written by David West Reed, the fresh and new musical originally hit stages back in 2019, making Miss Merrypor grateful to be one of three actresses to play the role of Juilet.
"Our show is so fresh that people don't know the story that well but at least they know the songs," she said.
"A lot of the time especially around Australia these days we always have shows like Wicked or Mamma Mia and it's like everyone knows and loves those stories.
"But with our show the story is very fresh and different and it's like we got the songs that everyone knows."
Music plays a huge part in the story and & Juliet has incorporated electric additions into the narrative by introducing a series of powerhouse melodies.
The soundtrack, composed by renowned Swedish songwriter Max Martin, features a selection of his chart-topping hits. Among the notable songs showcased in the show are Britney Spears' Baby One More Time, Backstreet Boys' Everybody, and Bon Jovi's It's My Life.
"I love every song in this show and they've done it so well, it's just genius how the songs just slot into the journey of each character so perfectly," said Miss Merrypor
"They come in the most perfect time in a scene where it feels like the songs were written for the show, you almost forget these were big pop songs…they feel like this is Juilets song."
Miss Merrypor recounted a memorable moment during her live performance which left a lasting impression on her. The moment took place as she passionately sang along to Katy Perry's empowering ballad, "Roar", which proved to be a pivotal moment for Juilet during her story arc.
"There's a part where the music cuts out for a second and I'm like singing acapella with no music behind me and you can hear the whole audience singing along with me every single night," Ms Merrypor said.
"It's so magical. I often forget the audience is out there, I am just kind of telling this story, being Juliet for two hours.
"And when it gets to that point at the end of the show I'm like 'wow, there's almost two thousand people here.'"
In addition to its music, another aspect that distinguishes & Juliet is its diverse cast, encompassing a wide range of actors and characters who authentically represent their respective communities.
Miss Merrypor said ever since the commencement of the performance, she has received numerous messages from both parents and teenagers expressing their heartfelt appreciation for her presence on stage and the sense of representation it brings to them.
"When you look at the stage it looks like real life, it looks like the community who'd walk around everyday which I think is really special," Miss Merrypor said.
& Juliet will be showcasing at Perth Crown casino til 8 February, 2024.