The same joke, an ocean away:
In the last five years, two musicals premiered that tell Shakespearean-adjacent tales through modern musical parlance, a version of contemporizing his plays into “plain” (read: non-Elizabethan) English.
Which isn’t the joke they share.
Both & Juliet (in London, opening on Broadway imminently) and Shaina Taub’s riff on As You Like It (at Shakespeare in the Park through September 11) place the Bard’s typical male heartthrob — star-crossed, dreamy, adolescent, love-obsessed yet unschooled in the ways of romance, AKA: fuccbois? — in the lineage of American Boy Bands.
In As You Like It, Taub decided that the aptest way to translate Orlando’s hammy, unskilled, cornball, yet genuinely affectionate poetry for 2022 audiences was through homaging the “hate to love it” catalogues of Boy Bands, one of which joins him on stage for backing vocals and waist sashaying. & Juliet does away with mere homage — the name of jukebox’s game — and instead cuts to the chase: its Orlando-esque lead is the frontman of a Boy Band that makes its horny bones by singing Backstreet Boys standards.
Both As You Like It and & Juliet seemingly reached a unified conclusion separately: the nature of these fuccbois’ adoration strikes a similar chord to the lusty (shallow?) appeal of Boy Band tunes.
Which is where the eerie overlapping really begins.
Orlando’s last name in As You Like It: de Boys. The Orlando character’s name in & Juliet: Francois du Bois.
Can you guess where this is heading?
Be it a veiled Boyz II Men reference, or the obvious Boys/Bois Band lark, I always marvel at how disparate writers from far-flung regions ultimately land on such uncannily-related wordplay and insights.