The Swedish producer’s debut musical sees Juliet ditching Romeo to move to Paris. We use his hits to plot the narrative

Ajukebox musical based on Swedish super-producer Max Martin’s biggest hits will hit London’s West End this autumn. Martin is one of the most successful pop producer-songwriters of all time, third only to Paul McCartney and John Lennon when it comes to racking up US No 1 hits. His three-decade career has seen him launch artists such as Robyn, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, assist in Taylor Swift’s pop reinvention and – less auspiciously – sustain noughties laggards such as Maroon 5.

In & Juliet, songs from his back catalogue will tell the story of half of Shakespeare’s most famous couple, who is “getting over Romeo by escaping to Paris with Nurse and her best friends”. The musical’s website asks: “What if Juliet’s famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate?” Little else is known about the musical at this stage, but who ever let facts get in the way of good old-fashioned conjecture? We assembled four writers to script their version of Juliet’s story from Martin’s esteemed catalogue.

It turns out to be easy to sketch a story of Starbucks star-crossed lovers from the lyrics of massive pop hits, quite possibly because Shakespeare’s tragedy is the archetypal romance from which most pop hits descended in one way or another. Who knew!

‘Did my heart love till now’

Juliet is bored. Romeo keeps serenading her with Backstreet Boys’ As Long As You Love Me. He thinks he’s being romantic, rebuking the Montague/Capulet divisions by declaring, “I don’t care who you are / Where you’re from”, but, frankly, it’s making Juliet feel disposable. He also seems to be suggesting that he’ll perish without her, slyly humming Maroon 5’s One More Night (“so I cross my heart and I hope to die”). Time to call his bluff with a swift draught of sleeping potion as Kesha sings “drink that Kool Aid, follow my lead” from Blow. The grinding EDM slows to operatic melodrama as Romeo enters, finds his apparently dead paramour and cocks the trigger as Kesha laments: “This place is about to blow.” Yikes.

Juliet awakens. “I did something bad,” she gasps to the crowd, feigning shock. She rips off her gown, the lights flash: “So why’d it feel so good?” she howls, heralding the first big set piece to Taylor Swift’s marvellously vindictive Reputation banger. She hears a cook in the kitchen humming Katy Perry’s Bon Appétit and realises that she wants more: Paris, city of wanton decadence. There, Juliet dabbles in conventional society, but finds the menfolk just as self-obsessed as Romeo: a phalanx of bewigged fops serenades her at a ball with Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life: “Every time we’re down / You can make it right.” This nonsense, encore? As she spots an unusually handsome lady courtesan, the opening notes of Demi Lovato’s Cool for the Summer start tinkling on the harpsichord, signalling the majestic second set piece.

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