Heathers: The Musical is a rock musical with music, lyrics and a book by Laurence O'Keefe (Batboy: The Musical and Legally Blonde: The Musical) and Kevin Murphy. The musical was in development for quite sometime including a sold-out Los Angeles tryout and a concert version before finally moving to Off-Broadway in 2014. The story is about Veronica (played by Winona Ryder in the movie) who manages to become a part of the most popular clique in high school, but she disapproves of the other girls' cruel behavior. When Veronica and her new boyfriend, J.D. confront clique leader Heather Chandler and accidentally poison her, they make it appear a suicide. Soon Veronica realizes that J.D. is intentionally killing students he does not like. She races to stop J.D. while also clashing with the clique's new leader, Heather Duke.
As a fan of the original 1988 American cult black comedy film, I was ecstatic to hear that they were adapting this movie into a musical. It had a rather short run off-Broadway, which is unfortunate because it's a great campy adaption and an even more wonderful score with killer lyrics. They even manage to sneak in all of the iconic lines such as "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" and my personal favorite "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw."
I saw the Twin Cities Community Theatre production on Thursday, February 4th and it had some ups and some downs. Many of the actors took their parts a little too realistically and didn't embody the dark comedic elements that the original movie had. The exception to this was Lily Cornwell, who played Heather Chandler. I also appreciated Dylan Cima approach to the role of J.D. It felt like his own but at the same time honoring Christian Slater, who played the original J.D. in the movie. The singing in this production had some notable performances including Tommie Hollingsworth who played Veronica Sawyer. Her belting in the popular song "Dead Girl Walking" was fantastic and she had a wonderful tone to her voice.
I think one of the hardest songs to sing in this production is possible "Candy Store" sung by the Heather trio. It needs to evoke power and a serious ear for the harmonies that the three sing. The three Heather's sang this song well but they were just shy from hitting the harmonies perfectly. While many of the actors still had me laughing at times, I credit most of that to the actual book and lyrics.
Often I don't blog about technical elements with a show, however I really want to give praise to Matt Jansen (Light Design) and Toniy Hamernick (Light Engineer) to the impressive light show they created for this production. The lighting was absolutely beautiful and really brought some depth to the show visually. I enjoyed that there was an actual permanent structure on stage for this production. Last fall I saw Legally Blonde: The Musical here and was slightly disappointed at the constant roll on set pieces. However the structure for this show gave it some height and more levels for the actors to play with.
If you're a huge fan of the movie, I still recommend going to see this production. It has just about everything that you loved from the movie and is an almost scene by scene adaptation of the movie but with music. This musical is not produced often by many theatre companies s, so I applaud Twin Cities Community Theatre for taking on this show, especially with its questionable content matter.