Following two hugely successful seasons in London’s West End and a WhatsOnStage award for Best New Musical, Heathers is back for a new UK and Ireland tour this year. Music, lyrics and book by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, this high octane, dark-comedy, smash-hit is based on the 1989 cult movie of the same name, written by Daniel Waters, and starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. The musical was originally trailed in LA then moved Off-Broadway in 2014 and Off-West End in 2018, transferring to the West End in 2018 for limited engagement.
Our protagonist is Veronica Sawyer (portrayed beautifuly by Jenna Innes, with incredible vocals) who opens the show dreaming of a better day. But be careful what you wish for, for once Veronica joins the popular, yet incredibly cruel, Heathers, life takes a deadly turn and things only get worse when the mysterious new kid in town, J.D (played by understudy Tom Dickerson at this performance- although I would never have guessed, he appears to be born to play this role) becomes the object of her affection. Although Veronica hates the school bullies who have made her life hell for so long, she didn’t exactly have murder in mind until…
On arrival to the auditorium, we are greeted with a scenic canvas of the outside of Westerberg High, a fictional high school in the fictional town of Sherwood, Ohio, complete with American flags, mascot (a rottweiler nonetheless) and school logo. The stage is set, and we’re transported back to high school, where the popular kids get their kicks by name-calling, wedgie-giving and lunch-tray throwing (cue fantastic musical number in the canteen, cleverly choreographed with said props).
It’s not often that a musical deals with such dark issues- bullying, suicide, sexual assault, rape, and murder. And yet, the play-off between the darkness and the comedy is perfectly balanced. Where a musical can move between a devasting double funeral, to a song about loving your ‘dead, gay son’ you know it’s on to a winner! The music is memorable, with high-energy routines as well as huge power ballads and although not a hugely dance-heavy show, what dance there is proves fun and punchy and the slow-motion fight routines work wonderfully, allowing for plenty of laughs.
Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara are played by Verity Thompson, Elise Zavou and Billie Bowman respectively, and what a trio! The girl band of the piece if you will, no more so than during ‘Candy Store’. This number requires big vocals and slick movement and all three certainly deliver. The Heathers ‘look’ is also to be commended. Despite their bright, bold colours these girls are nothing but dark and manipulative, a clever contrast, and there’s something particularly stand out about Verity Thompson with her bleached blonde hair, donning her blood red skirt and blazer. She’s clearly the leader of the pack and the costumes go a long way, throughout the production, in portraying each character- from the hippie teacher to the preppy stud.
The whole creative team must be celebrated for bringing this fabulous musical to life. It truly is a tour-de-force- the cast, the music and lyrics, the choreography, the set, the lighting, the costumes: I simply couldn’t fault it. It’s worth noting that the show has been given an age recommendation of 14+ due to some of the language and mature themes. However, if you want an unforgettable night out at the theatre then Heathers the Musical is definitely for you!
Heathers the Musical finishes its run at Theatr Clwyd on Saturday April 1st and continues on to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from April 4th to the 8th. The tour finishes its run at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford on October 21st.
To find out more about Heathers the Musical and to book tickets for the tour please visit here
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
Thursday March 30th to Saturday April 1st
Veronica: Jenna Innes
Jason ‘J.D’ Dean: Jacob Fowler
Heather Chandler: Verity Thompson
Heather Duke: Elise Zavou
Heather McNamara/Dance Captain: Billie Bowman
Martha Dunnstock: Kingsley Morton
Kurt Kelly: Alex Woodward
Ram Sweeney: Morgan Jackson
Ms. Fleming/Veronica’s Mum: Katie Paine
Kurt’s Dad/Veronica’s Dad/Principal Gowan/Resident Director: Jay Bryce
Ram’s Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach Ripper: Conor McFarlane
Beleaguered Geek: Tom Dickerson
Midwestern Surfer Punk: Lizzie Emery
New Wave Party Girl: Eliza Bowden
Drama Club Drama Queen: Eleanor Walsh
Young Republicanette: Summer Priest
Stoner Chick: Maeve Byrne
Hipster Dork/Officer: Liam Dean
Preppy Stud/Officer: Markus Sodergren
Producers: Bill Kenwright & Paul Taylor-Mills
Writers: Laurence O’Keefe & Kevin Murphy
Director: Andy Fickman
Choreographer: Gary Lloyd
Assistant Choreographer: Christopher Parkinson
Design: David Shields
Lighting: Ben Cracknell
Sound: Dan Samson
Musical Director: Will Joy