Heathers the Musical | Tour | Review

Heathers the Musical

The Hawth Crawley

August 2023

A full UK tour for this show, based on the 1988 film, that has gained something of a cult following since its initial run in the West End where it picked up a What’s On Stage Award for Best New Musical.

At Westerberg High School in Ohio a culture of bullying is rife. The whole gamut of humiliation including body-shaming, homophobia and misogyny is dished out to those who fail to fit with the in-crowd. Top, or probably more accurately bottom, of the group doing the victimising is a trio of queen bitches who call themselves The Heathers, although even within their ranks one girl, Heather Chandler (Verity Thompson), pretty much holds the other two in her thrall.

Veronica Sawyer (Jenna Innes) is a normal 17-year-old just trying to make it unscathed from one school day to another until doing the Heathers a favour by getting them out of a school detention brings about a change of fortunes — mixed fortunes nonetheless. Deciding that “nerdy” Veronica can be more use to them on the inside, Heather Chandler allows Veronica into the group. For Veronica it’s something of a double-edged sword; she certainly doesn’t have the vicious streak that’s required to be a full Heather but having them as allies at least offers the possibility of a quiet life. She’s kidding herself of course. After forging a letter on the orders of Heather Chandler as part of her latest cruel prank, Veronica soon finds herself in way too deep and turns on the other girls. She’s an outcast once again. This drives her into the arms of the enigmatic, poetry-reading Jason “JD” Dean (Jacob Fowler), but JD has demons of his own and for Veronica life is going to spiral out of control in ways she never could have imagined.

The book by Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde: the Musical) and Kevin Murphy (former writer on TV’s Desperate Housewives so well versed in all that is angst) includes themes of violence, sexual assault and suicide. If you’re thinking that these don’t sound like the ingredients for a fun night out, it has to be said that it’s all done in a blackly comic way that makes the show thoroughly entertaining. The score is one of driving power pop numbers and a couple of notable ballads and it’s all delivered with full-on energy by a terrific ensemble cast and enhanced by Gary Lloyd‘s high-octane choreography. Sometimes the vocals got a bit screechy and the cast weren’t served too well by a rather iffy sound balance at the start of the performance I saw but once everyone settled down things worked well. While there can’t be said to be any eleven o’clock numbers here, the songs Beautiful and Seventeen are standouts.

Jenna Innes gives a sympathetic and engaging performance as the beleaguered Veronica, equally matched by Jacob Fowler. And there nice turns by Morgan Jackson and Alex Woodward as the more-brawn-than-brains school tough guys, while Verity Thompson is excellent as head vixen Heather Chandler.

If you take your humour with a large helping of the dark then Heathers is a deliciously wicked feast.


Reviewer: Tony Peters