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Heathers The Musical

Heathers The Musical

Heathers The Musical opened last night to expectant applause and closed to a rapturous standing ovation. This latest in the series of new modern musicals is based on Michael Lehmann’s 1989 black comedy and manages to retain all the danger, uncomfortableness and thought-provoking whilst delivering it with a stunning score and no shortage of gallows humour.

Heathers is set in a stereotypical High School (think more 13 Reasons Why rather than Grease) with the usual groups of jocks, nerds, cool kids and, of course, Heathers. Here, the Heathers, 3 rich and entitled seniors, control who is in, who is out and who deserves to be just left alone.

Veronica (Rebecca Wickes – Six, We Will Rock You) is a plain Jane who wants to be noticed more and so attempts to befriend the Heathers. Usually this would be met with an acerbic put-down, but Veronica has a skill that she can forge handwriting and as such the Heathers see this (and Veronica’s not so subtly disguised beauty) as reason to bring her into the gang. Rebecca is a brilliant as Veronica; a feisty pocket dynamo with great range and wonderful timing.

The Heathers; Chandler (Maddison Firth – Six, Waterloo Road), Duke (Merryl Ansah – Lion King) and McNamara (Lizzy Parker – Urinetown The Musical) begin to force Veronica to turn her back on her friends and adopt their callous, snide and bitchy approach to their classmates. This doesn’t sit well with Veronica but the rewards of attention prove too big a draw to refuse so she does their bidding, albeit under duress. (Not surprising as Firth, Ansah and Parker are very convincing as manipulative divas)

Seeking someone she can confide in, Veronica falls for Jason ‘J.D.’ (Simon Gordon – Urban Myths, Moulin Rouge – Secret Theatre) a new guy at school who she soon finds is more Lone Wulf than Lonely Soul, he begins to lead her into deadly revenge on the Heathers and all those who follow them.

There is no mistaking the darkness in this production; murder, poisoning, teen suicide, attempted date rape are some weighty topics but they are delivered in the guise of High School life and Director Andy Fickman hits the right level everytime. With a stunning score and some brilliant performances, this never feels preachy, nor does it stray into exploitation. The young cast ensure that there is no dip in energy and brilliantly portray the hectic, chaos of High School.

Whilst the premise of Heathers is elitism and exclusion, the show actually celebrates tolerance, inclusivity and acceptance, nowhere better seen than in ‘My Dead Gay Son’ – a brilliantly hilarious coming out song.

Heathers is at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle until September 11th, tickets from

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