Heathers: The Musical at Twin Cities Theatre Community

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.

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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.

"Heathers: The Musical" plays Feb. 2nd-Feb. 12th.
Tickets are available online at www.tcctheatre.com
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Legally Blonde: The Musical at Twin Cities Community Theater

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When I walked into the Twin Cities Community Theatre (recently renamed and originally the Coon Rapids Community Players)  production of "Legally Blond: The Musical" at the the Sabes Jewish Community Center, I'll admit I was a bit nervous. There are musicals out there that if a theatre plans to do, they better make sure they have the time, resources and cast to not only do it, but do it well. There is no way to hide inexperience singers, a bad set or just plain bad acting with a show like this. It's also based on an iconic movie, originally starring Reese Witherspoon. The musical does a fantastic job of adapting the movie to the stage with our favorite lines (What like it's hard?) and turning moments like the "bend-and-snap" into a hilarious number.

However the two biggest things, in my opinion, you need is a phenomenal actress to play Elle Woods (Spoiler Alert: Mary Burchill played Elle and was phenomenal) and solid vocals for the entire cast especially the Greek chorus girls. I will say there were many times in which the ensemble/Greek chorus felt hesitant in many of the numbers in which they came in rather sheepishly and then sang louder after.

However that being said they were often in tune and sounded great especially the three leading Greek chorus girls Serena, Margot, and Pilar (Tynelle Marschall, Brogan Deblieck, and Haley Sister) were total scene stealers. They sounded great and always brought in so much energy and kept that energy throughout the entire production despite having some very intense choreography. 

A crowd favorite was also Paulette (Anne Brown) the crazy and hilarious hair stylist that Elle befriends. She did a great job on honoring the role of Paulette (from the movie) while at the same time making the character her own. The females, owned this show while honestly, the males were a little lackluster and not very memorable compared to the force that the woman brought on stage.

While I was quite impressed with the vocals that these performers had, I was a little disappointed with the set. Maybe it was a directors choice however some parts just did not make sense to me. For example when Elle was in her dorm room there was a door, a bed, a rolling set piece with a vanity and chair (all with plenty of props and detail) however while she was studying for the LSAT or meeting her classmates in the courtyard at Harvard Law, there was only a bench or chair. Nothing else. It seemed strange to me that some scenes and so many pieces to show the audience where they were while others lacked really anything.

I also found some tiny things in the set to be unfinished. Many times doors simply would not stay shut and opened during the middle of a scene. Another thing that I continuously would zone in on was the fact that the door in the salon was an empty door frame. There was no screen in the door, glass or even some plastic or Plexiglas. I often saw actors stick their hand through it while they opened or closed the door and that really takes you out of the show and the world that the actors have created.

Overall it was an enjoyable performance. The music, book, and characters are funny and charming and I look forward to seeing their next performance as the Twin Cities Community Theatre will be producing "Heathers: The Musical" February 2-12, 2017.

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