Props to Carrie Hope Fletcher for presenting a positive teenage image in Heathers - The Musical. Her Veronica (played in the cult 1989 movie by Winona Ryder) is a take-no-crap heroine who soon realises the three It Girls named Heather are really Shit Girls and, even though her singing voice is far from ordinary, Fletcher is relatable and curvy and so sexy in her realness that even the hot jocks who’ve been lusting after the stick-thin Heathers have no choice but to give in.
The jocks in question, Kurt and Ram, are played with exquisite dumbness by Christopher Chung and Dominic Andersen and in a nifty bit of pleasing-to-the-eye reverse objectification they spend most of the second half in just their Y-fronts whilst Heathers ringleader Heather Chandler (a spikey Jodie Steele) is reduced to wandering around in her nightwear, a literal ghost of her former self after Veronica and her beau JD (Jamie Muscato) sort-of-accidentally murder her.
The hows and whys of said murder will be familiar to fans of the film, the plot points of which the musical faithfully follows as Veronica begins to realise JD is a psycho with a grudge determined to stage a mini apocalypse.
That’s pretty dark stuff for a musical, with Muscato’s JD seeming more like the Undead than Christian Slater’s goth rebel in the movie, but it’s what gives Heathers the edge over other teen shows. Bad things happen to bad people and you end up willing them to.
Some of the casting is a bit off, with a few of the supposed teenagers probably better suited to playing the teachers, and the plot becomes a bit muddled towards the end. But the score by Laurence O’Keefe (of Legally Blonde fame) is really catchy, the choreography suitably '80s, the script smart and acerbically funny.
Transferring from The Other Palace, Heathers is quickly amassing a cult following, with many of the audience we saw it with having clearly been to see it several times before as they knew every song and line by heart. Given how subversively entertaining it is, just like the film that inspired it, that’s something to cheer about.
Heathers is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24 November. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.
Words: Simon Button