Heathers Musical at The Other Palace
Heathers The Musical
If you are a musical theatre fan then you can’t have escaped the hype that is surrounding this show. The combination of Carrie Hope Fletcher and this iconic movie has resulted in a huge amount of hysteria about Heathers. The hype has meant that they have managed to escape without a fully fledged press night and therefore escaped the main stream media reviews. I however was determined to see it so booked my tickets and got myself along to the Other Palace. I was lucky enough to see it in development last year at The Other Palace and loved the show then so I was excited to see what a fully staged show would look like.
Heathers musical is based on the film of the same name with book, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. It tells of 3 friends all called Heather who run Westerberg High School and Veronica Sawyer who is given a chance to become one of them but along the way it becomes clear that she has to sacrifice her old friends and moral decency to fit in. Veronica also falls for new boy at school, J.D who has a mysterious past and he sets about trying to convince Veronica about the best way to take down the Heathers and their cohorts.
The musical, although based on a 1980’s film remains entirely relevant today as it deals with friendship, bullying, body image and teen suicide. As Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe point out in the programme notes ‘rage-fulled mass shootings have become commonplace,’ in a way that was unthinkable at the time of the movie. It is this relevance that has helped ensure the success at The Other Palace with the sold out show and possibly the youngest and most enthusiastic audience I have ever been in.
The cast is packed full of talent and praise must be given to the cast director. Carrie Hope Fletcher plays Veronica. There was a large amount of fuss when this casting was announced as it is a departure from the parts the Carrie normally plays however in Carrie’s performance she shuts down any haters as she embraces the part of Veronica with gusto and confidence. Not only does she have the comedy timing required but the vocal ability to do justice to some huge songs such as ‘Dead Girl Walking.’ It also made me smile that I have never heard such a loud cheer by an audience of predominantly young women when a female lead took her shirt off!
The 3 Heathers are played by Jodie Steele, T’Shan Williams and Sophie Isaacs. They were a great trio and really brought these characters to life. Jodie Steele took on Queen Heather, Heather Chandler and did so with so much sass and powerful vocals, especially in ‘Candy Store’. Heather McNamara was played by Sophie Isaacs who reprised her role from the workshops. McNamara is an interesting Heather to play as the audience need to start off hating her as much as the other Heathers but come to realise that it is all a bit of a facade. Isaacs pulled this off brilliantly and one of the most touching scene of the show was her scene in the toilets with Veronica. Finally T’Shan Williams took on Heather Duke who tries to fill Heather Chandler’s shoes as Queen Heather. She is given a new song, ‘Never Shut Up Again.’ I loved the premise of the new song and gave her character a moment to really shine however within the new song I would have liked I little more light and shade, it punched me between the nose right from the start and was relentless with that attack through to the end.
Jamie Muscato also reprised his role as J.D from the workshop. He somehow manages to make the part of J.D incredibly appealing despite some of the horrific things he does/wants to do. The part is played with bundles of charm and mystery and his vocals are divine. I could go onto rave about the rest of the cast with Dominic Andersen’s and Christopher Chung’s Kurt and Ram funny yet slightly sobering Ram and Kurt, Jenny O’Leary’s beautiful vocals in Kindergarten Boyfriend and Rebecca Lock’s comedy timing as Ms Fleming and Veronica’s Mom.
One thing that Andrew Lloyd Webber mentions in the programme is the ability to try things out on this stage and the freedom therefore that the lack of huge sets and automation gives them to do this. This does not detract from the show at all. The cast do all the set changes but the simple but effective set simply shines a light on the strength of the show itself and the talent of the cast on stage without needing gimmicks.
I must also mention the costumes, the Heathers looks are iconic and the costume design still retains this whilst retaining some originality. I particularly liked the clever quick change Heather Duke carried out. One slight criticism is of the sound in so far as often the ensemble and band could overpower some of the soloists. I particularly noticed this in Never Shut Up, possibly more apparent as this was the only number I was not familiar with therefore needed to hear the lyrics more.
Every time I see Heathers it just gets better and better and I am sure that this is the perfect show for the West End at the moment. A relevant show that is attracting a young audience and a huge amount of well deserved hype. The songs are fierce the book is witty and touching…I would urge you to go but it’s sold out….maybe when it hits the West End?!
To find out more about Heathers then visit The Other Palace’s website. Warning – the show is sold out but there is a ticket lottery…..good luck!
If you like this review you might also like the write up of the Heathers not so secret, secret gig, my thoughts on the ‘Work In Progress Season’ which included the Heathers workshop and my review of Eugenius.