Hey yo, Westerberg! Attention of the class: it’s September 1st, 1989, and life can be beautiful… just not today. The fan-adored, brightly dressed squad haven’t gone away, and are currently busy touring the UK, as Heathers comes to a venue near you.
Struggling to be seen in the place where achieving popularity is the only success criteria for existence, Veronica Sawyer (Jenna Innes) reveals her untold talent of forgery, in return for a favour from the three superiors in high school; Heather McNamara (Billie Bowman), Heather Duke (Elise Zavou), and- the leader of the pack- Heather Chandler (Verity Thompson). As a result, she bargains her way into being part of their prized group, and away from all sense of normality, losing her best friend, Martha Dunnstock (Kingsley Morton) in the process. Soon Veronica's world is flipped once again, as a mysterious entrant to the area, JD (Jacob Fowler) has an impact bigger impact than anyone anticipates.
With triggering scenes as death and suicide is a running theme, Heathers is such complex piece. Though the overall plot is undoubtedly wild, particularly as the performance progresses, it is the criminally addictive soundtrack that steals the show. From start to finish, the piece is packed with tunes, hearing each one and thinking it couldn't possibly get any better, but it does. With too many specific moments to mention, it is essential to see for yourself just quite what Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe have done with the music, and then the depth of the lyrics that bring further understanding with every listen following that.
Establishing the dominance of the Heathers, 'Candy Store' is an instant hit, with the entrancing choreography and lighting upon the formidable three. 'Freeze Your Brain' demonstrated the enthralling voice of JD, as he tells his story, before 'Big Fun' gets the whole cast involved; 'Dead Girl Walking' then shows the spicy side of being an unrestrained teen. As one of the best act two openers out there, 'My Dead Gay Son' has an amusing and upbeat nature; a huge contrast to the solemnity and seriousness that other parts hold, such as 'Seventeen', which is a beautiful duet despite this. Katie Paine did a fantastic job becoming Ms Fleming, and truly got to show her colours with 'Shine a Light', though even with understanding of casting, it is sometimes a bit odd seeing the adult characters, including the parents, mixing in with the young people. Another striking moment is of 'Kindergarten Boyfriend', sung by Kingsley Morton as Martha, who has a wonderfully dreamy voice (even if the lyrics here aren't particularly outstanding in comparison with the other tracks featured).
It must be noted that Jacob Fowler's portrayal of JD's hostility yet vulnerability after his character's abusive upbringing is one of mastery, alongside his incredible vocals to accompany. The minute details in the mannerisms he portrays when connecting with others, particularly Veronica, give him that edge and uncertainty that draws audiences to the role. Similarly, the innocence that gets lost as Veronica moves into a new sense of person is a stunning development by Jenna Innes- 'I Say No' is one of few musical theatre songs that often could go unmatched too.
Chandler seemed to be played with confidence and ease, as the punchy character with the conceited attitude floats above the commoners and makes a true impression. However, on this occasion, it felt as if Duke and McNamara perhaps didn't get to make their intended impact, in spite of their potential. The dopey duo, Kurt Kelly (Alex Woodward) and Ram Sweeney (Morgan Jackson) are sufficiently (and purposely) irritating in their comedic notions though.
Ending with a bang, Heathers is one that everyone is talking about. Worth the watch to join the craze, grab your corn nuts and get ready for a night of big fun, as Westerberg High may be on its way to you.