Review: Heathers – UK Tour
Review: Heathers – UK Tour
A review: Heathers. The UK Tour production shines (“shine, shine, shine…”) in Wimbledon!
IMAGE CREDIT: Pamela Raith
Heathers is a bizarre animal of a musical. Like the cult 1980’s film of the same title it is based on, it didn’t start off triumphant – its off-Broadway production closed within merely five months. However, because of certain arguably illegal actions undertaken one evening by an audience member (commonly known as a making a bootleg), Heathers became an internet sensation and completely won over the audiences it never meant to target – namely, young teenagers. And truly, the atmosphere at New Wimbledon Theatre was buzzing – a rock concert moreso than a musical.
That, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing; theatre is meant to be experienced rather than admired from afar. Even though I don’t think Heathers is the most clever or creative musical ever written, the UK Tour production is without a doubt quite spectacular. It lifts us into a warped, exaggerated reality of the 1980s American high school, where a-nobody Veronica Sawyer is unexpectedly taken under the wings of the uber-popular Heathers. Enter JD, her new Baudelaire-quoting, James Dean-ish sweetheart who soon reveals his sinister – if not murderous – intents…
The cast was absolutely stellar. Four (four!) understudies went on – to a full house! – and were all brilliant. Particularly May Tether as Veronica who had a voice as limpid as outer space and Daisy Twells who was an immaculate Heather Chandler. Simon Gordon’s JD was not paralyzed with inner demons before the curtain raised, like some other actors playing the part – on the contrary, he kept lowkey right ‘till the banging (no pun intended) end, thus making his character believable as a teenage high school heart-throb. Plus, his and Tether’s harmonies were fantastic.
If the cast had a drawback, it would be perhaps the lack of chemistry between Veronica and JD, although in my eyes it had more to do with slightly bizarre and robotic blocking that’s been the bane of this musical since its off-Broadway debut rather than the acting talent or lack thereof.
The set design was surprisingly versatile, frequent changes went off without a hitch, and it worked wonders on a comparatively small stage. An indispensable part of the show’s success was the show’s costume design which retains a lot of the movie’s original vibe – including shoulder pads, red scrunchies and JD’s trench coat.
Out of three songs added after the London transfer, two felt interjected rather than organically emerging from the book, the story and characters, however, one (“You’re Welcome”) did actually improve upon what it replaced – horribly cringe and borderline offensive “Blue”.
As for the finale, It is not very clear what Murphy and O’Keefe want us to feel – euphoria, relief, nervous expectancy? But this is, perhaps, one of the musical’s strongest points. Always be seventeen/ Celebrate you and I/ Maybe we won’t grow old/ We can be beautiful…
Judged by the highest standards, a masterpiece this is not. It is, however, good fun – two hours pass like a cloud – a singing, dancing, Big Fun cloud.
Heathers ran at the New Wimbledon Theatre between 02 – 06 November 2021.