Heathers The Musical

"Grab the corn-nuts and digest an 80s corker of a show!"

Heathers The Musical has become a cult hit with a myriad of passionate followers. (Myriad? Nice!) Whether that’s down to the catchy songs, amusing script, the relatable message, impressive vocals of the talented performers or perhaps all of the above. Whatever it is keeping this show a nightly sell-out it has earned a whopping 5 stars in our eyes. Don’t miss out on catching this production before it goes for good (allegedly!).. so grab the corn-nuts and digest an 80s corker of a show!

Based on Daniel Waters’ dark comedy of 1989 featuring Winona Ryder, The Musical version of Heathers was created by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy and showcases a torrent of memorable songs. The quality of writing is exactly the standard you’d expect from the same writer as Legally Blonde and Bat Boy! We Know!

Firstly, I was surprised at how beautiful the New Wimbledon Theatre is. It’s a truly gorgeous venue in the heart of Wimbledon, not far from the park. Despite its name, the building officially opened over one hundred years ago in 1910 and has a capacity to seat 1670 audience members. Last night’s show was brimming with a full audience of excited fans who all gave a well-deserved standing ovation to finish.

Heathers The Musical presents the fictional story of Veronica Sawyer, a compassionate and witty school girl who is desperate to be popular. She artfully works her way into the popular girl gang of ‘Heathers’ at Westerberg High School but it’s not without its consequences. The storyline was easy to follow, highly amusing and the disastrously-dramatic script keeps a lighthearted edge to the dark and sinister plot.

I was particularly impressed with the set of this touring production. The cast made use of the whole stage and set, providing an additional upper layer of action and the whole show was adorned with fun, exaggerated versions of typical school props. Everything was well-lit and colourful, especially the bold costumes.

West End royalty Gary Lloyd set the beautifully styled dance moves. He choreographed to accent all the musical beats and his lively moves kept the story energised throughout the duration of the show. This ensured the cast worked tirelessly and definitely earned their applause! 

The lead character, Veronica Sawyer, was played by Jenna Innes who displayed a gentle take on the role of the smart, relatable heroine. Her dazzling vocals were nothing short of beautiful and her clean, light tone made a refreshingly softer Veronica. She added a lightness and almost classical air but still gave us those big-money notes we all were waiting for.. Kerching!

Another lead, Heather Chandler, was played by Verity Thompson and oh my, did she smash the role! She played the villain of the story that we all loved to hate, but secretly loved as well. Verity’s dedication to her character’s onstage reactions had us chuckling all the way through and personally, I thought she stole the show. She sparkled almost as much as those sequinned rainbow jackets in Act 2!

Both leads Innes and Verity gave us a masterclass in acting through song and were thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

In the show Veronica gets seduced and led astray by the dark and twisted character Jason ‘JD’ Dean. The actor Jacob Fowler put on an endearing performance and this vocal talent ensured his lines were sung beautifully, especially the slush-tactic song ‘Freeze Your Brain.

Overall, the whole cast did a great job at keeping the show elevated in vitality and charisma throughout, including the mostly-naked athletic jock duo Kurt and Ram, who nailed the campus clowns act - to the more tender dynamics of Martha Dunnstock and Heather McNamara who charmed us with their sweet solos.

I’d like to add special recognition to Conor McFarlane (who multi-roles as two of the dads and Coach Ripper) for his performance in the song 'My Dead Gay Son'. He had an amazing comic presence, combined with total conviction and turned what I would describe as a mid-range song into a show highlight!

If I had to critique something, all I could think to say would be that the focus on big, dramatic acting borderlined panto at times. In turn, sometimes we lost the sincerity in the script from the larger than life, cartoonisms, however it seemed this was the intentional stylistic choice here. It was clear that the audience agreed there was not a boring moment in this show, thanks to the hard working cast.

I want to end with a special mention to Bill Kenwright who unfortunately passed away yesterday. Poignantly, at the end of the performance last night, the cast held a dedicated round of applause for the producer who helped sculpt Heathers into what it is today.

So if you’re after a show full of teen angst, sequins, slurpees, the splits and show-stopping numbers then go and see this cult classic before it closes on the 28th October 2023. Oh and don’t forget the moral of the story, love isn’t just blind - it can be fatal!

This show was reviewed on the 24th October 2023.  The New Wimbledon Theatre marks the final tour stop for Heathers.  Tickets here: Heathers the Musical - UK Tour

Review written by Jasmine Alice

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Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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