Photo: Pamela Raith

For the uninitiated, Heathers tells the story of the students at American high school Westerberg High. Early on, we’re introduced to protagonist Veronica Sawyer, who is struggling to get by until she does a favour for the Heathers – the popular trio of mean girls at the school. Suddenly Veronica is catapulted to popular status, and the protections that affords, but at what cost? Over the course of the show we see her struggle as she is forced to choose between former friends and, effectively, surviving high school.

Originally opening Off-Broadway in 2014, Heathers The Musical – based on the cult classic 1989 film – began its journey in the UK back in 2018 at The Other Palace. It subsequently transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a West End run, followed by a UK tour, but it’s now back in its original home with a new cast. It’s garnered something of a dedicated following – we recently attended the show’s gala night, where numerous audience members dressed up in the iconic red, yellow, green and blue uniforms. We caught the show previously at the Theatre Royal Haymarket – so how does the current production stack up?

Photo: Pamela Raith

Time hasn’t been particularly kind to Heathers. Of course, being based on a film written in the 1980s, some of the humour is pretty dated. While we understand there’s a fine line to tread when attempting to stay true to the original source material, at times it doesn’t feel like Heathers gets that balance quite right – punchlines about eating disorders feel a little uncomfortable in 2022. Additionally, while no one in the cast is weak, it lacks the star power draw that the West End production had; coupled with being on a bit of a smaller stage and not quite as robust a tech set up (the band seemed awfully loud in comparison to the singers) – it just felt a bit underpowered in comparison to the version we’d seen previously.

All is not lost, however. At its core, Heathers The Musical has some excellent material: Candy Store is an early highlight, a barnstorming camp anthem introducing us to the three titular Heathers, played by Maddison Firth, Vivian Panka and Jasmine Beel. Erin Caldwell impresses in the role of Veronica Sawyer, particularly on tender ballad Seventeen, and Nathanael Landskroner succeeds as the mysterious new student and love interest JD.

Heathers The Musical is something of a mixed bag. There are certainly some treats to be found in this particular candy store, but much of the material is in need of a sensitive update, and the highs don’t quite scale the heights of the previous West End iteration. For the most part it’s an enjoyable evening, but we didn’t have quite as much fun as we’d have liked.

GAY TIMES gives Heathers The Musical – 3/5

More information can be found hereThe images used in this review are from previous productions of Heathers The Musical.