“a darkly funny night of musical theatre! “
**** 4 Stars
The cult 1988 Christian Slater, Winona Ryder movie “Heather’s” was adapted into a musical in New York in 2010 and that adaptation has gone on to achieve its own cult following with various productions in both New York and London’s west end.
The show has just moved from the Theatre Royal, Haymarket to Bill Kenwright’s newly acquired “Other Palace” in London and embarked on its first ever UK tour. It makes it final stop for the 2021 leg at Edinburgh’s playhouse theatre bringing its black comedy magic to an approving audience.
Telling the story of Veronica Sawyer (A simply brilliant Rebecca Wickes) a regular Middle American girl attending Westerberg High School. Lost in the normality of day to day life no one see’s her But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers her dreams of popularity may finally be coming true, then enters mysterious teen rebel JD (The Gorgeous Simon Gordon) teaching her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody.
Although very much a dark comedy it does delve into serious life matters that are equally as dark with bullying, teen suicide, sexual assault, homophobia and school violence all put under the microscope.
Laurence O’Keefe’s and Kevin Murphy’s book, music and lyrics are sharp and witty although Act 2 is much stronger than Act 1 and the reoccurring musical theme does get stuck in the head. The poppy score sticks long in the mind and is delivered in style by the young 18 strong ensemble cast
Rebecca Wickes portrayal of Sawyer has depth that makes her eternally watchable accompanied by a stellar voice. The same is true of Simon Gordon as Jason”JD” Dean, a dark complex character that walks the line of teen age angst and genuine emotional upset from a back ground that alludes to emotionally dysfunctional family. The principal couple truly grip from the off and are supported by an excellent ensemble cast. Special mention must go to Mhairi Angus as Martha Dunnstock, Martha is the typical outcast we have all known in our school years, slightly overweight but with a heart full of love and a will to fight for what’s right, her moment in the spotlight steals the show.
Director Andy Fickman has truly got to grips with both script and cast delivering the comedy but always knowing when the genuine drama and truth needs to come through to make the production true to itself. Gary Lloyd’s choreography delivers in spades and its will drilled into the cast who deliver it in a crisp, sharp but always fun way!
David Shields design is fabulous Americana but the set has been heavily brought in on the Playhouse stage making it look small but in smaller venues on the tour it may well have filled the stage. Ben Cracknell’s lighting design is spot on especially in the dramatic moments. Combined with Dan Samson’s sound design that ensures Will Joy’s 6 piece Heathers band is given full throttle to shine from deep in the pit of the Playhouse.
Heathers the musical resonates with a younger generation who remarkably are too young to have been around in 1988 when the movie original was released. The musicals mixture of teenage soap, adult themes and fabulous music make it a darkly funny night of musical theatre! Well worth seeing before it bows out of the Playhouse!
Bill Kenwright &Paul Taylor-Mills present Heathers the Musical; Edinburgh Playhouse runs until Saturday 11th December for tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/heathers-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/