Heathers transports the audience back to Westerberg High School in Sherwood, Ohio, in the late 1980s. Westerberg is your typical American High School with its collection of testosterone-fuelled jocks, pretty girls who are full of vanity and empty of compassion as well as the nerds who are often the butt of all their jokes and cruel pranks. Where Westerbeg deviates from its course is when a loner turns up and blows up the social scene…quite literally.
The storyline will be familiar to many as it is closely based on the cult classic film of the same name which starred a young Winona Ryder and Christian Slater back in 1989. Judging by the audience – many of whom were dressed like extras from the cast in their American-style school uniforms – that cult classic status has crossed over into the musical version which has wowed audiences in New York and the West End of London.
From the opening number – Beautiful – it was clear to see the reason for the show’s popularity. Backed by the superb musical ensemble, the song set the scene for the high-octane entertainment that ensued over the course of the next two-and-a-half hours. Driven by the incredible voice and charisma of lead actor Rebecca Wickes as Valerie, in many productions it would be the stand-out, show stopper. Heathers is different though for it is packed with show stoppers that make it difficult to single out a highlight.
While Rebecca carries the lead role with great aplomb, the quality throughout the cast is superlative. Special mention must go to Maddison Firth as Heather Chandler, Simon Gordon as JD and Mhairi Angus as Martha Dunstock who may have played a smaller role in the production compared to other members of the cast but her performance of Kindergarten Boyfriend was stunning.
The show tackles some very heavy issues such as toxic masculinity, bullying, peer pressure, mental health, homophobia and teen suicide with respect whilst managing to somehow inject humour. Lots of humour. Heathers is right up there with one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. My only complaint was that the jokes came so thick and fast that you barely had time to recover from one laugh out loud moment before the next was upon you.
The show’s finale was met with an instant and hearty standing ovation from the audience which was nothing less than this incredible production deserved. See it before it disappears for Edinburgh and its last leg of the UK tour.
- Heathers will run at the WMC until December 4th.