The Fame Reporter interviewed spectacular up and coming Australian performer, Jesse Dutlow (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. Jesse is playing the role of May in the modern musical inspired by Shakespeare’s classic play.
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!
Jesse’s theatre and television credits include Saltypringl in Fangirls (Belvoir, Sydney Opera House and Featured Artist, The Voice Australia – Season 6.
We had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Jesse and talk about what enticed them to want to join & Juliet as May, how important representation is in the arts community, how Max Martin’s hit songs resonate within the story of & Juliet, their love for Brandy and Destiny’s Child and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Jesse. What was it that sparked your interest in performing initially?
Thanks so much for having me! I’ve been singing since before I could even form words. Music has always been the lens through which I’ve viewed the world and connected with people. My favourite Disney movies, like the 1997 Cinderella musical with Brandy and Whitney Houston have been such a huge inspiration to me.
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 May?
Back in 2020, my friend Amelia told me about her new favourite musical, & Juliet, and how there was a character named May, who particularly reminded her a lot of me.
When I was offered the role, I was just so excited and grateful. I was out at dinner and literally ran out of the restaurant and was squealing in the street. This is such a dream come true for me.
What do you love about working with this cast?
It’s just a big group of friends creating magic every day. It’s so fun and easy that it really doesn’t feel like work.
Blake, who plays Romeo, and I have worked together before and have become such good friends, so it’s special to be reunited with them too!
What did you connect to when reading May’s narrative and character arc?
When I first auditioned for the show, I was just on the cusp of discovering my non-binary identity. May is in that same space of figuring out where they fit in the world.
May’s friendship with Juliet is their safe space to talk (or sing) things out and I’ve had so many similar conversations with loved ones over the years that have helped me reach a place of peace with myself.
What do you love about May and Francois’ relationship?
May and Frankie share one of the purest romantic loves I’ve ever seen in a musical. It’s two young people who are on a journey to find themselves and find each other at such a critical point.
What I love is that Frankie sees May so clearly and it’s the first time May has been accepted in that way. It’s such an honour to share this love story with Melbourne every day.
What do you think it is about Max Martin’s music that resonates with people within the context of this musical?
He’s a genius. There’s no doubt about that. And he knows how to communicate to people’s hearts. People may come into this show and not even know who he is, which is the brilliant because he’s written the score to a lot of our lives.
I remember when ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry came out. I was in high school, and it transported me to a beautiful dream world. It was on repeat on my iPod Nano for the longest time.
Max Martin’s songs drive our show’s story in such a powerful way, it’s so exciting for our audience to come on that journey with us.
How important is representation in the theatre and arts community in general?
People of marginalized communities and social minorities deserve to see themselves in the media we consume. I hope that’s not up for debate anymore, but I know we live in a world where Black mermaids and Muslim superheroes still make certain people upset.
For someone who is Black, queer and gender nonconforming, there haven’t been many characters that I’ve been able to say confidently, “that’s me” about.
And we’ve barely cracked the surface of what meaningful representation can be in the arts.
There is so much more work to be done and I hope that soon, people of all body types, abilities, genders, religions, races, ethnicities and skin tones can come to see shows and feel like they’re included in the story.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Let’s just do a Destiny’s Child reunion and get Michelle, Bey and Kelly on the phone.
Why should audiences come along and see & Juliet in Melbourne?
Shakespeare and Max Martin are an Avengers level crossover that you never saw coming.
& Juliet will break your heart, put it back together better than before and then make it soar.
Get ready for the best night out!!
Fame Reporter Word Play
A dream come true.
Favourite song of all time that you never get sick of
End of Time – Beyoncé
Causes you are passionate about
The next big thing.
It’s almost time for a comeback.
How to become a Melbournian
Just do it, babes.
Dressing Room necessity
Kettle Chilli chips!!!
Savoury or Sweet
Shout out to Boy George!!
Once on this Island
Literally iconic. Bring that show to Australia!!
Favourite nostalgic pop artist
Favourite & Juliet song
Australian theatre scene
We are taking over!
Ohhh wow… y’all did your homework!
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Connecting with people and telling stories.
Thank-you Jesse 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