Review: Heathers – The Musical

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Ticket Type: Orchestra 

Viewing Angle:  3rd Row from the back – full view.

Price: $45 from Tkts

Location: New World Stages

Heathers The Musical is an off-Broadway production of the popular 1988 film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater of the same name. It actually takes the dark teen comedy and improves it by adding much more character development (first time I’ve seen that in a musical appropriation) and lighter comedic moments. There’s a clear influence from Mean Girls here as every bitchy line from the film is delivered with a lot more sting, especially by “Heather” leader played by Jessica Keenan Wynn. 

Although appropriate adaptations of the film are welcomed, some don’t translate effectively or haven’t been translated well. The advertising would have you believe differently, but the girls playing croquet never really makes sense as they mime knocking balls across the stage. Some characters are butchered in sacrifice for a more campy musical theatre style such as JD’s father and a whole crowd pleasing, but not really logical song “I love my dead gay son” takes the flamboyance to irritating heights.

The performances and the infectious songs are what make this show shine. Charissa Hogeland brings a modern quirkiness to the role of Veronica, which makes her incredibly likeable to the point where you’re ok with her killing people off (sorry spoiler alert, but not really). All cast members belt out the catchy tunes created by Kevin Murphey and Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde), you will have these songs stuck in your head!

The main area that lets this production down (unfortunately I assume due to budget restrains) is the overall design of the show. They attempt to achieve a minimalist style, but there’s not consistent theme carried through. There are a few set pieces painted fully pink, but this doesn’t carry through every scene the way it should for it to be a stylistic choice. The lighting is creative at times, but overall quite sloppy; faces sing in darkness until the spot drags up and the cyclorama is overuses to the point where you feel relieved when a more subtle background colour is used.

It’s a fun show, one that I think deserves a longer life on Broadway than it has been given and maybe with a bit more time would have been able to work out the kinks a bit more. Definitely worth seeing if you get the opportunity. Check out the video below.

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