Canadian writer David West Read on the '& Juliet' Tony nom he was most hoping for

·2 min read

Canadian writer David West Read was on his way to set when he learned the jukebox musical he penned, "& Juliet," had been nominated for a Tony Award.

In fact, it was nominated for nine, including a best book nod for Read specifically.

But that wasn't the first nomination he learned about, nor was it the one he was most excited about.

"The best musical is the one that I was really hoping for, because everyone gets to share in that," he said in a phone interview after the announcement Tuesday. "And this musical has been such a collaboration between so many people over so many years. It's so exciting to have something to celebrate with the whole '& Juliet' family."

The comedy musical, which opened in London and hit Toronto before making its Broadway debut last year, frames a collection of Max Martin's pop megahits with a reimagined ending to "Romeo and Juliet."

In Read's script, Juliet not only survives, but she quickly rebounds from the loss of her erstwhile lover and takes off to Paris for a fresh start.

The journey is set to 30 familiar tunes penned by the Swedish producer, including six from the Backstreet Boys and five from Britney Spears.

“I made a rule early on that I wasn’t going to change any of the lyrics other than pronouns or things like that,” Read said in an interview with The Canadian Press last year.

“We had to really make them work and make it seem like every song was written for the show. It was a big part of the challenge of the puzzle.”

On Tuesday, Read said he's thrilled the show is getting so much love, both from audiences and the theatre establishment.

The show's nine nods are second only to "Some Like It Hot," which scored 13. “New York, New York” and “Shucked” also got nine nominations each.

In addition to best musical and best book, "& Juliet" was nominated for best leading actress in a musical, best featured actress, best costume design, best lighting design, best sound design, best choreography and best orchestrations.

"Sometimes jukebox musicals aren't celebrated with awards or reviews," Read said. "But it seems like people are able to see that we put a lot of work into this one and a lot of thought, and some really brilliant artists came together and contributed such great work on this."

This is Read's second turn writing for Broadway. His first came a decade ago, with the play "The Performers," about the drama that unfolds at an awards show for porn stars.

He went on to write for and executive produce "Schitt's Creek," for which he won an Emmy in 2020.

The Tony Awards will air live on CTV on June 11 this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2023.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press