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Heathers The Musical

Heathers The Musical

All photos: Pamela Raith Photography

Think about your own high school experience and you instantly start to sweat, right? The teenage dramas, the cliques, and of course – the awkward romances. Heathers is your typical American high-school movie, but much more explosive. Literally.

It’s clear from the moment you enter the auditorium that the show already has a huge following, with audience members donned in blue blazers and scrunchies. It was downright magical to be back in a West End theatre at full capacity, and the atmosphere was electric. 

From the very opening of the show, every vocal performance was magnetic, with the audience hanging on to every word. Christina Bennington, who took the lead as gawky wannabe Veronica Sawyer, blew the roof off with her larger than life vocals, particularly in I Say No and Dead Girl Walking. She created an instant connection with us, reminding us that as teenagers, we just wanted to fit in. She delivered some great comedy moments with her facial expressions alone, as well as taking us on Veronica’s journey from a nobody, to a Heather, to struggling with her moral compass. 

Jordan Luke Gage went from the bad boy outsider our mothers hoped and prayed we’d never bring home, to the homicidal maniac we hoped and prayed we’d never bring home, as JD. His character development was excellent, showing a little bit more vulnerability, adrenaline, and madness with every scene. Together they created a powerful connection, far too reminiscent of the intensity of your first love. 

True to her name, Jodie Steele stole the show every time she entered the stage as your typical Queen Bee, Heather Chandler. She gave the role so many more layers than was probably ever intended. She was every bit the ice queen you would expect, but you were absolutely on her side, even though you didn’t want to be. She delivered some of the best comedy moments, playing on her instant rapport with the audience. 

The entire ensemble did a sterling job of keeping the energy sky-high. It was crystal clear that every single cast member was having a blast, especially the “grown-ups”, Lauren Ward, Simon Bailey, and Steven Serlin, who played multiple roles and absolutely nailed every one. 

There is a subtle contrast between the high energy, typical musical style numbers and comedy moments, and the serious undertone of the overarching theme – mental health. You could be forgiven for not realising that the whole story centres around teenage suicide, and uncomfortably refers to the whole ‘school shooter’ scenario that has sadly become too familiar in this day and age, despite the show being set in 1989. 

One of my favourite moments of the entire show came at the very end. Every single member of the cast, including the ensemble, had a singular bow. I’ve not been to a show where this happened before, and it absolutely should at every show going forwards. 

A stellar return to the West End, you should go and see Heathers simply to get lost in a group of young performers doing what they do best, and loving every second of it. As the Heathers would say, “honey, whatcha waiting for?”

  • : admin
  • : 21/07/2021
Heathers the Musical

Heathers the Musical

[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.

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[Carrie Hope Fletcher (Veronica Sawyer) and the cast of Heathers The Musical. Photo: Pamela Raith Photography]

  • : admin
  • : 10/09/2018