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BrumHour saw Heathers The Musical at the invitation of The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains: strong language, violence, scenes of sexual assault, discussion around suicide and homophobic language.
Review: Heathers The Musical at The Alexandra
Directed by Andy Fickman, Book, Music and Lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe based on the film by Daniel Waters
Veronica (Rebecca Wickes) is struggling with the usual high school issues of the late 80s, having the right hair, the right clothes and surviving her final year of high school in Ohio, USA. She finds herself drawn into the “popular” group lead by three girls named Heather (Heather Chandler played by Maddison Firth, Heather Duke played by Merryl Ansah and Heather McNamara played by Lizzy Parker). Soon after joining the Heathers, Veronica finds herself judged by mysterious new transfer student JD (Simon Gordon).
This is a gloriously dark comedic musical which splits its audience into two camps: those who know the film and those who don’t. I first watched the film in the early 90s and have seen it plenty of times over the years. The film runs just over 100 minutes while this production runs at nearly 120 minutes. And rather then add 20 minutes of lyrics to create a new product the musical blends dialogue into songs adds to the proceedings rather than taking away. Veronica’s Dear Diary moments serve to narrate the show.
Because of its age the source material of the film takes on its topics head on which might come across as heavy handed or shallow to some people watching but for me this brings these topics out in the light more for discussion and thought. Not bad for a musical where the main characters are dressed in primary colours.
This is the first new musical I’ve seen in over two years (due to pandemic) where I didn’t know anything about the songs or how it was updated. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to and it didn’t trample on my memories of the film which is always a concern.
The singular school set forms the backdrop for most of the action, showing that high school looms largely for these young people even when the setting is their homes or a store. The lighting reminds you that all is not well in this high school
This is a solid cast with Rebecca Wickes a fine lead actor and storyteller, excited and nervous, strong yet vulnerable, the heathers are suitably fierce too and Mhairi Angus as ex best friend Martha gets a shining moment in the song Kindergarten Boyfriend. Simon Gordon is suitably unhinged playing the increasingly bloodthirsty JD.
Exhilarating, dark and fun, Heathers The Musical is at The Alexandra until Saturday 25th September 2021. Book tickets here: atgtickets.com/shows/heathers-the-musical/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham. This productions continues its UK and Ireland Tour until 11th December 2021. Find out more here: heathersthemusical.com.