“September 1st, 1989. Dear Diary…”Veronica Sawyer, Heathers the Musical
Heathers the Musical, based on the 1988 black comedy film of the same name, follows Westerberg High’s Veronica Sawyer as just another nobody dreaming of a better day. But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers and her dreams of popularity may finally come true, mysterious teen rebel JD teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody.
The dedicated fan base which followed a 2014 off-Broadway soundtrack has truly manifested across the pond in a record-breaking run at The Other Palace, two hit West End seasons and a WhatsOnStage award for Best New Musical. As my first trip back to Heathers since seeing the original runs in 2018 I was curious to see the dynamic story and score in a new light as a more settled show, embarking on a National Tour.
The difficulty of the Veronica Sawyer track is well-known throughout the theatrical community, but somehow Jenna Innes makes the sing itself look effortless. Innes truly is the heart of the show, bringing an excellent balance of confused teenager and confident advocate that ensures each relationship feels grounded in both farcical and dramatic moments. JD is in the safe hands of Heathers veteran Jacob Fowler. His interpretation relies less on a distinct shift, rather twisting the mysterious, intellectual and critical outlook JD shows in his first scene making any hint of adorableness even scarier. Innes and Fowler’s ability to find the root of the tumultuous relationship, and their excellent voices, ensures ‘Seventeen’ and ‘I Say No’ are highlights.
Verity Thompson never drops the glossy, mythic nature of Heather Chandler and this forms an excellent partnership with Innes’ Veronica. Thompson’s comedic timing delivers every iconic dialogue line and her clear voice emphasises ‘Candy Store’ within a score of hits, leaving you wish Heather Chandler had even more opportunities to show off Thompson’s talent. Elise Zavou and Billie Bowman as Heather Duke and MCnamara respectively ensure to take their solo moments and run with them. This trip to Heathers emphasised the quick pace of both score and book so their impact during ‘Never Shut Up Again’ and ‘Lifeboat’ need to be commended.
Kingsley Morton is fresh from her turn as Wednesday Addams (The Addams Family) and you can hear the strength and power in her voice from the very start of Martha Dunnstock’s solo ‘Kindergarten Boyfriend’. Morton ensures this moment balances impact with the, slightly ironically, unspoken reality. A strength of Heathers will always be the score and Morton ensures ‘Kindergarten Boyfriend’ holds the same impact as those louder, brighter songs. I would also be remiss not to highlight Alex Woodward and Morgan Jackson as Kurt Kelley and Ram Sweeney respectively who, similarly to Thompson’s Heather Chandler, maintained exactly who their characters were throughout and, in doing so, heightened their comedic moments throughout.
It can be argued that the initial hyper-attention on Heathers the Musical is waning, and this would be the case for any show after the sheer excitement that accompanied its move to the UK. However, in this National Tour the highly skilled cast bring its strengths, a brilliant score and an excellent dark, contemplative, comedic tone, to the forefront for an enjoyable night. Heathers the Musical definitely thrives on the atmosphere of its audience so viewing on weekends is highly recommended.
This show contains strong language and strobe lighting, references to suicide and eating disorders and sexual assault, moments of violence, gunshots and flashing lights.
Heathers the Musical is playing at the Wales Millennium Centre from 22nd – 26th of August 2023. More information and how to book tickets here. Synopsis in this article matches that on the Wales Millennium Centre website.