Heathers The Musical is based on a film from the late 80s. One, that I must admit, I’ve only seen recently and, naturally, fell in love with. So, when an opportunity presented itself to see the live-action Heathers The Musical, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
The film had me hooked on the fashion, the scrunchies, the dark humour and, of course, the storyline. It’s safe to say my expectations were rather high and I was curious to see how the musical will play out on stage.
Little did I know that after a busy day at Luxe HQ, Heathers The Musical was just what I needed.
The Storyline of Heathers The Musical
Right before the show started, my friend turned to me and asked me: “So, what’s this show about?”, I laughed and told her I would need an hour to explain it and it’s best she sees it for herself.
The storyline of Heathers The Musical is quite complex but entertaining and engaging all throughout. It starts with Veronica Sawyer, starting her senior year in high school, this time noticing a change in the air. There’s a divide between the cool kids and the nerds and Veronica finds herself in the middle of it, not truly knowing which side she belongs to.
This is where Heathers come in. The three most popular, and possibly meanest, girls in high school. Heather Duke, Heather McNamara and the Queen Bee – Heather Chandler.
With a bit of luck, Veronica Sawyer proves to be of use to the Heathers, forging absence notes for school, and she doesn’t hesitate to join the mean girls, as belonging in a popular clique will prove to be a safe year in high school. Or so you would think.
Veronica and J.D
Things take a bit of a turn once Veronica notices Jason Dean, or J.D. for short, among the new kids in school. Sucker for a mysterious, loner bad boy, she finds herself drawn to him and soon enough, he takes an interest in her as well.
Only one problem, though. J.D is not a big fan of Veronica’s new friends Heathers and, truthfully, she doesn’t fully agree with them either – what with the ruthlessness and cruelty they express.
The dislike of Heathers from Veronica’s side is quite obvious at Kurt Kelly’s and Ram Sweeney’s (typical high school jocks) party. Veronica, as one usually does, has too much to drink and throws up on Heather Chandler after which, she promises to destroy Veronica’s reputation.
Now drunk and upset, Veronica finds her way to J.D and spends the night with him. It’s not until the morning comes, she realises she needs to find Heather Chandler and apologise to her, or in other words – she needs to do everything she can to save herself from having a miserable year in high school.
J.D., the gentleman he is, offers to come along.
The Plot Thickens
Once at Heather’s house, Veronica chats to J.D and jokes about spitting in Heather’s drink, and J.D. takes a step further and offers to pour drain cleaner in it. As he actually fills a cup with it, Veronica accidentally picks it up and hands it over to Heather Chandler, who drinks it without hesitation.
Before Veronica knows it, Heather Chandler is dead and J.D. is encouraging Veronica to forge a suicide note, as this is the only way to avoid jail for what they’ve done.
Once the news kick in, that Heather Chandler has committed suicide, she somehow becomes even more popular than before. As she becomes more popular, J.D. becomes more violent and aggressive, determined to end everyone that messes with Veronica.
He convinces Veronica to kill Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney for trivial reasons. Thinking the bullets in the gun are not real, she goes ahead with the plan. Once the two jocks are dead, J.D. frames their death in a way to make them look like homosexuals, having the last laugh.
Feeling tricked and concerned, Veronica sees that J.D. has serious problems and breaks up with him. In consequence, J.D. feels hurt and betrayed – his new target is Veronica.
But Veronica is one step ahead. She fakes her own suicide to get J.D. off her back. Once he does, she is going after him.
Thinking Veronica took matters into her own hands, J.D.’s new target now – the whole Westerberg High. He plants a bomb inside the school, but Veronica shows up and shoots him before he can go ahead with his plan. She cuts off the wires to the bomb and saves the school.
As Veronica leaves the school, J.D. is still alive and follows her with a bomb strapped around him. He delivers a personal eulogy and the stage goes black.
Heathers The Musical Cast: Veronica and The Heathers
Heathers The Musical had a few different cast members before. I might sound biased saying this, knowing I’ve only seen this one perform – but I can’t imagine a better group of actors for this incredible musical show.
The star of the show, of course, is Veronica Sawyer, played by Jenna Innes. She portrays a character that a lot of us are familiar with. Someone that is one foot in with the outsiders and one foot in with the popular kids. This split between the two characters is so very well portrayed in Jenna Innes performance. More so, taken to another level with her outstanding vocals.
The Heathers, played by Verity Thompson (Heather Chandler), Elise Zavou (Heather Duke) and Billie Bowman (Heather McNamara) are either actual mean girls in real life (I highly doubt it), or just fantastic at what they do. Verity Thompson, playing the leader of Heathers, is so very well suited for the role. She’s got the look, she’s got the voice and even her body language on stage makes her performance so convincing. I can easily say she is the perfect Heather Chandler in my eyes.
Heathers The Musical cast: J.D, Martha Dunnstock, Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney
Jason Dean, played by Jacob Fowler, is a complex character. But this complexity was easily transcribed into the audience with his performance. As the show goes on, you don’t just see J.D. as the antagonist. You see him as someone that longs to be understood and you don’t blame him for the way his mind works. You blame the conditions under which he has been brought up.
Martha Dunnstock, played by Kingsley Morton; Kurt Kelly, played by Alex Woodward; and Ram Sweeney, played by Morgan Jackson – have done a wonderful job portraying the stereotyped characters. You know an actor has done a brilliant job once you get upset for them (Martha Dunnstock and the way she was treated by The Heathers); or once you get annoyed by them (Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney being the typical high school boys).
What’s good about the show?
I rambled on for ages, so I will keep this short and sweet.
The cast have done an amazing job playing their characters, and each and every one of them deserve recognition and appreciation for the amazing job they have done and continue to do all throughout the UK tour.
Kevin Murphy, Laurence O’Keefe, Andy Fickman and Gary Lloyd have done a magnificent job directing Heathers The Musical. A special mention goes to the songs, which were stuck in my head for hours and were a great collision between modern music with an 80s rock twist.
My favourite part of the show was a number called “My Dead Gay Son”. Performed by Conor McFarlane, playing Ram’s dad and Jay Bryce playing Kurt’s dad. I won’t spoil too much of it but all I will say is that the plot twist by the end of this musical performance is absolutely unexpected, hilarious and to die for.
When is it on?
Heathers The Musical is currently showing at Sunderland Empire until 24 June 2023. If you haven’t got the tickets yet, hurry and get them here, you won’t regret it. I promise.