At the intimate theatre space of New World Stages, The Roundabout Theatre Company has finally brought to life the beloved 1980s movie “Heathers.” The female-favorite film about a high school girl who tries to be part of the “in-crowd” by deviously playing social politics, this story truly is the “Mean Girls” of the 80s. But what’s a better way to get back at the popular kids than the Burn Book? Kill them all.
Upon entering the theatre, audiences are greeted with period music and they are immediately immersed in the world of the 80s, plus a full bar and waiters taking drink orders in the seats. The show opens in 1989, senior year. The stage fills with students of all different personalities and body types, accurately representing the diversity of a real high school. There are the geeks, the Goths, the jocks, the fat girl and of course, her loser best friend Veronica.
Cue the Heathers. The “plastics” of the story, Heather Duke, Heather McNamara and their leader of the pack Heather Chandler, otherwise known as “the Heathers,” are the most popular girls in school. Desperate to be cool and to stop being picked on, Veronica ditches her unpopular best friend and receives a Heathers makeover to make her beautiful.
Veronica’s mother tells her daughter, “Don’t let these popular girls change you,” and it all goes downhill from here.
With her new look and clique of friends, Veronica is finally noticed by the jocks and even attends her first high school keg party. But when main character Veronica meets the new guy at school, she falls in love and completely under his spell. A motherless teen-angst rebel who freezes his problems away to numb his loneliness, character JD proves to be a significant part of the plot.
Veronica, played immaculately by actress Barrett Wilbert Weed, at last does not feel alone and grows to need to popular crowd in order to exist. The show accurately illustrates the dynamics of high school with smoking, drinking, porn, jello shots and stealing parents’ liquor. Veronica is finally popular.
After having sex with JD, Veronica and him “accidentally” murder the main Heather. They fake a suicide note and get away with it. The two stay together and JD manipulates her into using their strong love to extinguish anyone in their way of making it to the top of the high school food chain.
Of course with any movie-turned-musical, the main difference is the impact the music and lyrics have on the production and plot. Most of the dialogue in the show was conveyed through singing, a contemporary way of expressing important moments in scenes in modern musical theatre. Compared to older musicals, there are no real catchy songs to take away from the show individually, although as a whole, the soundtrack is interesting.
The most entertaining song of the show, however, is the duet by the two jocks, played by Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney. Entitled “Blue,” the catchy melody expresses the common experience of hormonal teenage boys who sing to the girls about how they “make their balls so blue.” This number is hilarious and very well-choreographed, certainly bringing back memories of awkward high school days,
The two jocks are also eliminated from the equation, however, when JD once again tricks Veronica into killing them, and once again getting away with it by faking a suicide note.
Although some of the off-Broadway voices weren’t quite star power ready, and the ending buttons to most songs were not stable, the long-awaited musical version of the hit movie is an entertaining success.
The unexpected and simple choreography by Marguerite Derricks did not hinder the production or distract from the raw style performance. Derricks, who had the opportunity to teach a few master classes to the University’s own Commercial Dance students, is a truly inspiring creator and she worked well with the individual talents of the cast. The extremely talented singer, dancer, and actor of the frightening JD, Ryan McCartan, who is starring in his own Disney Channel show, also paid a couple visits to the University and offered valuable advice to the young up-and-coming Broadway-aspiring performers.
The most talented singing voice came from Katie Ladner who plays Veronica’s overweight best friend Martha a.k.a. Dumptruck, who sheds light on the relatable feelings of a teenage girl struggling to make it through high school alone.
In attempt to make the world beautiful by getting rid of everything and anyone standing in the way of their love and happiness, the unrequited murderess couple gains a love for each other that is as powerful as God, holding the power to decide who lives and dies.
From a nobody to the queen bee, Veronica becomes a true Heather as she holds the power and knowledge to either save or destroy the entire school. When the symbolic red hair scrunchie worn by Heather Chandler eventually reaches Veronica in the end, it is clear that she has officially turned to the dark side and has all the power she ever dreamed of- but at what price? Everyone has their own damage, but to what extent will she go to be the most popular girl in school?
Check out Heathers: The Musical. For more information, visit http://heathersthemusical.com/.