THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Heathers The Musical is a look-in on American teenagers in the eighties. Unsurprisingly, kids are equally perplexing today. Seems the pressures of teenage friendship and the need to fit in remains an engaging storyline, and all of this set before mobile phones, the internet and social media. The musical is based on the 1988 movie and has gained a serious cult following, just as the movie did sometime after it came out. Devotees are referred to as CornNuts, after the American snack, and are known to come to the show dressed as the characters. Are you getting the picture?
Some of the show's themes are ever so poignant today, such as poshism and the taking down of the popular and elite. Post-lockdown, teenage mental health is a very current topic and I question whether the show's timing is right but it seems that the kids of today are mesmerised and comfortable exploring suicide and less shocked by it.
It's is one of the first shows to re-open in London and indeed the absence of theater over the last year and more added to the anticipation. The well-trained theater crew directed us through the one way system into spaced seating which was a welcomed pleasure from the pre-Covid days of being squashed up, shoulder to shoulder. Perhaps because there were fewer people in the theater, the audio setup should have been adjusted as it was a booming wall of sound. It still rightfully showcased the magnificent voices, particularly of Christina Bennington as Veronica Sawyer.
Where is it written that one has to adhere to the original, or any version? In the movie the girls were much bitchier and more sexualised, a choice director Andy Fickman chose not to make. And interestingly for the movie, a young Brad Pitt auditioned for the part of JD but was judged to be "too nice" for the role. Jordan Luke Gage, who played JD, with his devilish grin, is a young up and coming actor to keep an eye on and I suspect will be a big audience draw.
After the show, I surveyed two 20-year-old girls who had been waiting for months to see the show, They knew all the music ahead of time. To them, neither the sound nor the subject matter was at all bothersome and they gave it a ten out of ten. The punters have spoken.