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Review: Heathers the Musical, WMC Cardiff

‘KILLER’ performance as Heathers the Musical hits town.

I’LL leave the cliches for the headline writers and head straight to the superlatives.






If you can get to the Wales Millennium Centre this week to see ‘Heathers the Musical’ then do.

This is theatre on Red Bull, which is pretty apt considering some of the characters get their wings.

Heathers is based on the cult 1980s hit which threw two-fingers at the typical coming-of-age John Hughes films of the era. This is a coming of an age musical with a difference…several of the characters don’t get past 17…

Cast of Heathers. Credit: Pamela Raith

I watched the film recently and struggled to see how it could be turned into such a musical extravaganza. It is dark, very dark.

But this rock musical, while rightly maintaining the black comedy of its movie counterpart, simply takes the film to another level; with its beautiful ballads, foot stomping rock, incredibly tight choreography, wonderful acting, and often dazzling costumes. Who didn’t want a US football-style college jacket back in the day!?

In a clever adaption from the film, the ghosts of Heather Chandler, Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelly prowl the stage continually, getting into the consciousness of our anti-hero. (Or is that hero? The death toll might count against her). Think Shakespeare’s Banquo in jocks!

There are 20 songs, and the outstanding “My Dead Gay Son”, superbly performed by Ram and Kurt’s dads (Conor McFarlane and Jay Bryce) was my pick of the bunch closely followed by “Shine a Light”. Indeed it did, on one poor unsuspecting member of the audience!

Interweaved through it all is a fast-paced plot which highlights the perils, uncertainties and frailaties of the in-betweener years.

Veronica Sawyer, is the anti-hero making her way through an angst laden Ohio high school full of all the stereotypes. You see them all: the nerds, the jocks, the cheerleaders, and the outcasts in all their glory.

Cast of Heathers. Credit: Pamela Raith

She wants to be popular, as we all did, and sometime still do. So she joins the beautiful but cruel band of ‘Heathers’ and her dreams of popularity are finally coming true. But to quote Holden Caulfield, “it’s all phoney”.

The mysterious new kid on the block Jason ‘JD’ Dean sees it all for what it is, and together he and Veronica form an alliance, exposing the hypocrisy, the loneliness, and fears in those High School corridors.

Kingsley Morton and Jenna Innes. Photo Credit Pamela Raith

The powerful storyline can’t fail to resonate, underpinned by the journey of ‘Martha Dumptruck’ Dunnstock, (played by Kingsley Morton) abandoned by one of her oldest friends, because she wasn’t cool enough.

By the end there’s a very clear message: none of us are normal, get used to it and let’s be friends.

This is a young cast with incredible acting and musical talent. Jenna Innes is super as Veronica, with Jacob Fowler as the skulking, sulking JD.

The three ‘Heathers’ of Verity Thompson, Elise Zavou and Bille Bowman strut their way through this two and a half hour pleasurefest, even when one happens to be dead!

The performances of Morgan Jackson (Ram) and Alex Woodward (Kurt) were as comical and as brilliant when both dead and alive!

And as previously mentioned, the performances of Conor Macfarlane and Jay Bryce were excellent, as was Katie Paine playing the hippie-influenced Ms Fleming.

I am usually asked to write no more than 600 words for these reviews….6000 wouldn’t do Heathers justice.

A knowledgeable, enthusiast audience lapped it up…or should that be licked it all up?! Unforgettable.

‘Heathers the Musical’ is at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday, August 26. You can find more information and tickets availability here.