& Juliet The Musical || Blake Appelqvist

The Fame Reporter interviewed established Australian performer, Blake Appelqvist (they/them). They are starring in the brand-new West End and Broadway smash-hit pop musical ‘& Juliet’ now playing at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne until 29 July. Blake is playing the role of Romeo in the fan favourite show.

From the Emmy-Winning writer of Schitt’s Creek; David West Read, this hilarious, inspiring and poignant new musical is a celebration of self-discovery and second chances! Shakespeare gets remixed with some of the world’s most loved and glittering pop anthems from legendary songwriter and #1 Hitmaker; Max Martin. The international smash hit & JULIET is now playing in Melbourne for a strictly limited season!

Some of Blake’s theatre credits include Clyde in Bonnie & Clyde (Joshua Robson Productions); Harry in FANGIRLS (Belvoir); Demetrius in The Lovers (Bell Shakespeare); Oaken in Frozen (Disney Theatricals); Miss Understanding in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Michael Cassel Group); Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel Group); Understudy Sam Wheat in Ghost (GWB/Ambassador Theatre Group) and more.

We had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Blake and talk about what enticed them to want to join & Juliet as Romeo, how important representation is in the arts community, their love for original Australian theatre, what its like working with the creative-minded cast and more.

What was it that sparked your interest in performing initially?
The freedom of expression and the endless possibilities. I think performing as a kid was the best place for my imagination, energy, and creativity to be channeled into an art form, and a safe place to explore ideas and learn through abstract concepts.

What about & Juliet enticed you to want to be involved in it and what was your reaction when you found out you landed the role of Romeo?
I was absolutely beside myself when I got the call and was beaming for the rest of the day – that was a very very good day. In terms of the concept of the show, there’s something really clever about telling a classic story (that many people know) and updating it in a way that blends and challenges the source material through a modern framework.

All classics have great lessons but modernizing them in a way that can be more accessible to younger audiences ushers in a new generation of theatre goers and is a great vehicle for combining different demographics into the same theatre experience. 

What do you love about working with this cast? 
Everyone is so up for the challenge of this show, and the commitment from our entire team (including everyone backstage) is inspiring.

It’s an absolute joy to work with a group of creative minds who still keep it as fresh and fun as it was when we first sung through the score in the rehearsal room just 3 months ago.

What did you connect to when reading about Romeo’s narrative and character arc?
I connect with a lot of Romeo’s traits but particularly with his heart.

With Juliet, he discovers the love written in poems and songs, but learns that sometimes just loving isn’t enough – you have to be willing to grow, to adapt, to listen, to change and accept that at any point in that growth they could outgrow you or even grow in a different direction.

I’m still learning a lot and it’s so nice to learn more through the other relationships in the show too.

What do you think it is about Max Martin’s music that resonates with people within this musical?
Max Martin has constantly been writing pop bangers for the best of the best and they always include that special Max flavour that is hard to describe. The music is catchy, fun and joyous, which makes it memorable but every song has a clear message that everyone can relate to.

When we worked with Max before opening night, he had little tweaks for all of us that may seem small, but in the pop world every detail matters – and I think that gut instinct and sharp ear is exactly what makes him a genius.

What do you love about working on new Australian work like The Lovers and Fangirls for example?
I love creating new work and telling stories that connect with people who don’t typically go to the theatre, especially works that include stories centred around queer and trans characters (because I never had them growing up). With new work, there are less defined notions about the story being told, so I like that freedom of getting to create new pieces, with our distinct humour, mannerisms and experiences.

I love the investment in work made locally, because it supports and champions our distinct and diverse industry here with audiences naturally connecting with it more because it’s uniquely personal. Also, I personally love hearing natural accents in musical theatre.

How important is representation in the theatre and arts community in general?
Representation shows audiences that their lives and stories are worthy of being told and celebrated. It naturally creates nuance and safety within a company, and deepens our ability to show up for each other to become better allies on and offstage.

It’s hard to simplify or put into words how important it is, because it’s something that is felt way more than it’s seen or heard and unfortunately it’s rare in our industry.

With that being said, & Juliet has felt incredible thanks to the preparation from our producers, the many different layers of representation across the company and this kind of attention brings a lot of hope to the future of our industry in setting a standard that includes a wider spectrum of stories and storytellers. 

What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Laverne Cox, Frank Ocean and Ella Fitzgerald.

Why should audiences come along and see & Juliet in Melbourne? 
& Juliet is the perfect musical for people who don’t usually go to the theatre, because you already know the lyrics, you’re gonna wanna boogie from the start of the show and it will leave you wanting to come back again and again.

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a karaoke party but you don’t wanna sing (or hey, maybe you do) – then this is for you. This show is something you have to experience to understand the hype – so come along and find out.

Fame Reporter Word Play

& Juliet

Dream collaborator
Donald Glover

Favourite song of all time that you never get sick of
Smooth Sailin’ – Ella Fitzgerald

Causes you are passionate about
Sustainability, intersectionality and inclusion



How to become a Melbournian
Wear black, drink coffee.

Celebrity Crush
Frank Ocean


Dressing Room necessity

Savoury or Sweet




Favourite & Juliet song

Australian theatre scene
Needs more original musicals.

TV Binge

Miss Understanding

Kinky Boots

Future dream
West End

Finally, favourite thing about performing
The freedom + the creativity

Thank-you Blake for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for & Juliet The Musical at The Regent Theatre in Melbourne!

Currently playing until 29 July 2023
Regent Theatre, Melbourne

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All photos and videos – Supplied and by Daniel Boud