[L-R: Jodie Steele (Heather Chandler), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Veronica Sawyer), T'Shan Williams (Heather Duke) and Sophie Isaacs (Heather McNamara). Photo: Pamela Raith Photography]
The rise of Heathers the Musical has almost taken the West End by storm, although nearly all those lucky enough to witness the show’s opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket this week already appear to be well and truly versed in the cult hit’s journey from big screen to stage. A myriad of audience members have taken the opportunity to dress themselves in Westerburg High School paraphernalia as the Rocky Horror-style party atmosphere kicked off in true style.
The 2014 off-Broadway musical – adapted from the 1989 cult movie – came over for a short workshop run at The Other Palace in 2017 before a virtually new cast brought the show back to life at the same venue for a couple of months over the summer of this year. The new cast’s full and deserved West End opening this week shows just how strong the appeal is for Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s dark musical comedy.
With murder and teenage suicide high on the menu, it is probably the balance of some fine numbers with plenty of well-played comedic moments that enable the storyline to survive. That is mainly down to Andy Fickman’s experience direction and a cast who know exactly what they’re doing.
Leading the bunch, Carrie Hope Fletcher has come a long way since appearing as Jemima in the London Palladium’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all those years ago. Full justifying her casting, she actually demonstrates a fine ability in comic timing as she brings Veronica Sawyer – the teenager who decides to buddy up to the school bitches – to life.
Weighing up her options, Veronica’s move to impress the three Heathers is worth throwing her moral compass – and best friend – out the window. The vacuous trio, led by the evil Heather Chandler (Jodie Steele), are only surpassed in their stupidity by school jocks, Ram (Dominic Anderson) and Kurt (Christopher Chung) – a highly buffed but monumentally thick pair of hunks.
When Veronica meets and falls for the mysterious new boy, Jason ‘J.D.’ Dean (Jason Muscato), the disturbed teenager subtly leads our heroine down a path of murder – knocking off Veronica’s classmates one by one.
Despite the gory story, Fickman has crafted a great deal of tongue-in-cheek comedy to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes and, backed up with MD Simona Budd’s loud and tight 6-piece band and some catchy tunes from Murphy and O’Keefe, manages to get away with bringing this cult tale into the West End.
Stand-out support comes right across the cast, including the extremely appealing Rebecca Lock who doubles as Veronica’s ‘Mom’ and the hippy-swinging Ms Fleming – her big act two number, Shine a Light, brings the house down!
The audiences are certainly loving the stylish humour and packing the Haymarket out until the run ends on 24th November, so what’s not to like. It’s multi-coloured, it’s croquet-mallet-friendly, it’s murderous… and very funny.
More at: https://heathersthemusical.com
[Carrie Hope Fletcher (Veronica Sawyer) and the cast of Heathers The Musical. Photo: Pamela Raith Photography]