Heathers: The Musical

A few months ago we saw Heathers: The Musical. Based on the cult film Heathers, starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, I had never actually seen the film so didn’t really know what to expect from this musical. Set in a 1980’s American high school, Veronica Sawyer dreams of being popular and manages to join the popular group, the Heathers – because they’re all called Heather. But when newcomer JD comes to town, things take a turn for the worse. 

Performance

As soon as the show opened, it was fun and lively, a lot of high energy and was super fast paced. It moved from song to song quite quickly. I was aware the film had a cult following, but didn’t know the musical did too. There were lots of clapping and whooping at some good songs. And when the Heathers came on stage, the audience loved it.

Set in the 1980’s, so there are no mobile phones, just landlines – it was quite funny remembering the long corded landline phones from back in the day. I liked the Dear Diary aspects, where everyone on stage freezes and you hear Veronica’s thoughts through song, and then as the song continues everyone moves in slow motion. That was really well done. 

I was really impressed actually, I think because I just wasn’t expecting some things to happen. During the song Never Shut Up Again, one of the Heathers changes clothes in a split second – it happened so quickly, I just blinked and she changed clothes.

The other hilarious part was during the song Shine a Light, where a teacher sings about breaking up with her boyfriend and the light shines on an audience member so the whole cast are singing to this person in the audience! Some performers played multiple adult characters and were very very good. 

 

Themes

It was nice in the second half that some characters had their own solos, really allowing the performers to shine and each character has their own issues and problems, giving the musical a little more depth. Particularly in Lifeboat, where it turns out one of the popular Heathers experiences imposter syndrome and actually attempts suicide. 

The first half was super upbeat, whilst the second half took a turn, for sure. This is a dark comedy that deals with bullying, suicide, attempted suicide, death, mourning, homosexuality, date rape, abusive fathers, toxic relationships, imposter syndrome, friendships, guilt. It actually packed in a lot. But it was also very entertaining, though some may feel it downplays a lot of the darker aspects. 

It was interesting, and quite hilarious, seeing how guilt was dealt with as a few people – SPOILERS – come back to life after being killed. You could tell the performers were having fun. This was the least PG13 musical I’ve seen so far: I wasn’t expecting to see simulated sex on stage. 

Having not seen the film that the musical is based on, I wasn’t expecting the character JD to have so many issues or be so dark. At first I felt sorry for him, but as the musical progressed the character got more and more outlandish and radical. 

 

Effects

The sets were moved quite seamlessly on stage, most of it being set in a high school. Though there were some interesting props used in other scenes.

I didn’t see the band on stage, but they were there somewhere. The musical ended with a lively song and almost everyone was up in their feet singing and clapping along. 

I’d definitely recommend this musical, even if you haven’t seen the original film, like me. It’s a good fun couple of hours, bright and colourful and cheerful – considering the dark themes that are littered throughout. 

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