Heathers: The Musical is a filmed theater performance of the adaptation of the 1988 dark comedy “Heathers.” Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe are the playwrights, lyricists, and composers of the adaptation, and it was directed by Andy Fickman. The original movie starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as Veronica and J.D., and newcomers Ailsa Davidson and Simon Gordon do an excellent job of following in their footsteps. Davidson in particular looked precisely the part with a fantastic singing voice to match.
The story follows smart and talented high school student Veronica Sawyer as she is adopted by the “Heathers,” the popular girl trio of her school, all of whom are named Heather. Despite her newfound popularity, she finds their actions cruel, and tries to stop them while maintaining her status. When she meets Jason Dean, a rebellious young man with a penchant for changing the status quo by ending lives, she falls hard for him, and unwittingly becomes his partner. They kill the leader Heather and make it seem like a suicide. They hope that their actions make the high school a better place, but unfortunately, it only seems to make things worse.
I am glad that I had seen the original Heathers before so I could appreciate the changes that are made for the musical, most of which improve the story. For example, we actually see Veronica start out as a regular girl and then become a popular girl when she saves the Heathers from trouble. Martha Dunnstock and Betty Finn are combined into one character which makes Veronica’s rejection of the trio more believable. Certain aspects of the story are heightened such as Martha’s bullying being moved to the party, and having the dead characters follow Veronica around as the story continues. Despite the intense subject matter, Heathers: The Musical is still very funny! The two football players Kurt and Ram, portrayed by Liam Doyle and Rory Whelan were hilarious, and their fathers’ song “My Dead Gay Son” took a turn I wasn’t expecting but thoroughly enjoyed.
I thought the production design of the stage was really smart, especially due to the limited amount of space. Having an additional platform allowed there to be more room and emphasize certain dramatic moments like the Heather trio and Veronica’s “suicide.” I also loved the costuming, especially the trio with their iconic monochromatic outfits. Finally, there were many shots and pans to the audience that I feel like I don’t see often in these filmed musicals. As popular as Heathers and Heathers: The Musical may be, it is not as widespread and well-known as other musicals. I think the shots to the audience were a good decision because their enthusiasm brought my interest up and kept me excited to watch.
Heathers: The Musical is a fun way to spend a night. The performances are solid and the story is edgy and fun with a healthy dose of social satire. It is available Friday, September 16 on the Roku Channel.