West End Theatre Guide
Heathers is a musical by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy based on the 1989 film by Daniel Waters. The movie was one of the last in a string of movies set in American high schools providing insight into the environment where teens are forced to forge their identities, although Heathers was different from many others because it saw a female character as the leading protagonist.
The story revolves around Veronica Sawyer, an isolated girl who’s beaten down daily by the high school social hierarchy. The musical features archetype characters: the supreme beauty queens, the dumb jocks, the misunderstood and mocked; but Veronica spans the chasm between unpopular and popular. She joins ranks with “the Heathers”, the school’s most popular and pretty trio of girls who are above and governing the chaos beneath them, taking part in their games, turning against her childhood friend, and abandoning her principles and beliefs. Along her misguided path, she encounters JD, the new kid in school, and she is swept off her feet when he refuses to bow down to the social hierarchy and floors two bullies in a fight who no one else has the guts to stand up to.
What follows is the death of three high-schoolers by the puppet-master hand of the psychopathic JD, who’s left damaged and dysfunctional by his mother’s suicide and his father’s abuse, and seeks to unleash his wrath on those he deems corrupt. Caught in this whirlwind of uncertainty, Veronica pulls through and learns the lesson to believe in love and doing what’s right, not allowing hate, anger and resentment to control her actions.
Carrie Hope Fletcher (The Addams Family, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Les Miserables) triumphed in the role of Veronica. Jamie Muscato (Big Fish, Lazarus, Stay Awake Jake) chilled and enthralled as JD. Jodie Steele (Myth, Wicked, The Great American Trailer Park Musical) was phenomenal as queen-bitch, Heather Chandler. The entire cast excelled with Murphy and O’Keefe’s catchy score, including multiple fantastic numbers such as, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Freeze Your Brain’, ‘Dead Girl Walking’ and ‘Dead Gay Son’.
Touching on issues of bullying, popularity contests, teenage suicide, and exploitation of tragedy, Heathers is a thought-provoking, brave, humorous delight. This production transferred after a workshop run in the studio and then an Off-West End premiere at the Other Palace, and we are hopeful to see more of Heathers in the future.