Touring – until 11 December 2021
Reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre
Westerberg High School is back open and this time it’s touring the UK. The show’s popularity is evident from acclaimed Off-West End and West End runs in 2018, followed by another West End engagement this past summer and a newly announced run at The Other Palace. This touring production embodies the same energy and will continue to provide Big Fun until the end of the year.
What works so well about this musical is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The whole thing is melodramatic and larger than life, focussing on high school stereotypes that are highly stylised and humourous. Alongside this, Heathers does focus on some extremely dark issues such as suicide, sexual assault and bullying. It does so pretty well, although at times it feels somewhat sloppily handled, and it would be great if there were some sort of trigger warnings before the show or placed around the theatre to prepare people for some jarring moments.
However, Andy Fickman does a great job at directing this fast-paced black comedy, which alongside Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s book, music and lyrics provides an energetic and enjoyable night out. Ben Cracknell’s lighting does an excellent job of packing the stage with colour and cleverly draws your eye to crucial moments as well as literally highlighting the Heathers in their signature colours and often bathing JD in a cool, eerie shade. David Shields’ design effectively transfers us to each plot setting, whilst maintaining the school vibes which course throughout; and the split levels utilise the space as well as working to emphasise the hierarchies of the characters.
Phil Cornwell leads the band to bring the rock soundtrack to life vigorously, Dan Samson’s sound design really shines and Gary Lloyd’s choreography ties it all together, with some excellent work by the mile a minute ensemble.
As our protagonist Veronica Sawyer, Rebecca Wickes is a powerhouse force. Her vocals are sensational and she maintains her energy and intelligence from start to finish. Barely leaving the stage Rebecca is a joy to watch as she brings a wide array of emotion and has a self-awareness that is magnetic. Simon Gordon as the brooding bad boy JD has equal pull as he sweeps Veronica and the audience up with his suave mystique, only to reveal his true self as the show moves on. Simon’s voice is perfectly matched to the role and the pair work brilliantly together.
The three Heathers are played boldly by Maddison Firth (Chandler), Merryl Ansah (Duke), and Lizzy Parker (McNamara). Liam Doyle and Rory Phelan as Kurt and Ram give stand out performances and have a fantastically humourous chemistry with one another. As Martha Dunnstock, Mhairi Angus is heartwarming and vocally outstanding, providing a real starring moment and some calm in an otherwise crazy show.
Overall Heathers is a musical which clearly delights audiences and is top-notch for a modern musical. It ticks the boxes of humour, angst, drama and generally being over the top and is well worth visiting as it tours the country.
‘Ticks the boxes of humour, angst, drama & generally being over the top’: @RewriteThisWeb delights in @HeathersMusical on tour. ★★★★ #HeathersMusical #touring