by Deirdre Donovan
cast of Heathers photos by Chad Batka
is the name of the game in Heathers: the Musical, which is still running
strong following its opening on March 31st at New World Stages. The
titular Heathers—Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, and Heather Duke— are
champion put-you-downers who are determined to remain on top as Princesses of
Westerberg High in Ohio.
on the cult 1989 film written by Daniel Waters, and brought to the stage by
Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) and Laurence O’Keefe (Legally
Blonde) who collaborated on the book, music, and lyrics, this tuner is
right in tune with one of the hottest issues in society today: youth bullying
youth. Okay, it is a cartoon of teens and the very competitive world they
inhabit. But it still speaks with clarity, wit, and has song and dance numbers
(choreography by Marguerite Derricks) that are riveting to watch and listen to.
Wilbert Weed & Ryan McCartan
young cast is superb! Jessica Keenan Wynn as Heather Chandler, Elle McLemore
as Heather Duke, and Alice Lee as Heather McNamara, make-up the Heathers junta
and are all triple threats with talent to burn. Another actress who shares
equal artistic mettle is Barrett Wilbert Weed, playing the smart and beautiful
rebel Veronica Sawyer, who falls for sexy, mysterious
kid J.D.(Ryan McCartan) and then boldly rejects the Heathers clique. Under the
able direction of Andy Fickman, these aforementioned performers, and the rest
of the 17-member cast, strut their stuff and make their points about bullying
with real bite and panache. Amy Clark’s costumes help define the characters.
musical has been evolving for approximately 4 years, and can already boast of
bi-coastal productions. It had a reading in 2010 and a concert version at Joe’s
Pub (at the Public Theater) that same year. It got its stage legs, however, at
Los Angeles’ Hudson’s Backstage Theatre in September and October 2013. And,
with enthusiasm growing for the musical there, the decision was made to
transfer it to Off Broadway. It was a smart move. New Yorkers have been
beating a path to Heathers since the early critics weighed in with thumbs
up for this delightful new tuner with a serious message for youth.
songs pretty much propel the story forward and make the transitions between
scenes go smoothly. There’s the opening number “Beautiful” that allows the
audience to see all the eye candy on stage and reveals how the high school set
think being beautiful is the bottom line, and (falsely) equate it as a
sure ticket to success. Other numbers like “Candy Store” prove that the
Heathers have a mean streak a mile wide and would “slap your face off” in a
blink if you crossed them. “My Dead Gay Son” has a real twist and a revelation
tucked into it as two mourning Dads (Anthony Crivello and Daniel Cooney) rewind
the years and uncover that their own sexual preferences haven’t always been for
the opposite sex. There are no musical clunkers here, and the comic tone
trumps over the somber.
show does stretch a tad too long at over 2 hours and 15 minutes, and sometimes
gets repetitive in its material. There’s an intermission that serves up drinks
that turn the theater into more of a pub atmosphere than anything else.
Obviously, the emphasis here is on keeping it fun and light. So while it
carries a sobering anti-bullying message, Heathers aims to get its truth
across without getting overly puritanical or preachy.
Eison and cast of Heathers
Heathers is one of those
musicals that seems to come out of nowhere, and now that it is up and running,
you simply want it to continue on and on. This is a must-see for youngsters
over 12, and oldsters who want to be in the loop of the new generation with its
growing pains and joys.
who want a sneak peak at Heathers can go to Youtube and catch some of
its lively songs and find out why New Yorkers have taken big to this little
musical that could. This show has a lot of dark corners where its various
characters wrestle with their demons and better angels, and they soon realize
that killing is just a bullet away.
matter how you spin it, there’s no doubt that Heathers is a contemporary
parable that deserves your attention. So, by all means, go to this killer
musical and learn some important lessons about survival.
New World Stages, Stage 1, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan
tickets, phone 212/ 239-6200 or visit www.telecharge.com
time: 2 hours; 15 minutes