Image description: The three ‘Heathers’ all with their backs turned holding croquet mallets.
By Elaine Hanlon
If you love Glee, but have always wished there was a higher body count, then you’re in for a treat as Heathers the Musical hits the stage.
The story is a comically satirical look at a fictional high school where bullies rule until a new student arrives and starts killing them off. The show became somewhat controversial in the US after a number of actual high school shootings, so much so that Paramount Network, who were making the TV version of the show, discontinued the series. So it may come as a surprise to some that the show has now become a musical, but I’m very glad it has.
This musical is full of colour, energy and song, set against the world of teenage angst. The story revolves around the all-consuming mental anguish that comes with finding yourself and your love in a cafeteria full of stereotypical high-schoolers. Through the eyes of the smart but cynical Veronica, we meet the bitchy cool girls (all named Heather), the homophobic football jocks, the bookish best friend, and the dreamy, but rebellious, new kid.
The show glams it up with the iconic kitsch and colour of the eighties, but is also a black comedy filled with the darker themes of coming of age. It looks at bullying, the lure of popularity, suicide, and living with parents and teachers who are just too caught up with their own problems. With lines like “Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw”, it’s no wonder these kids grow up mean.
The show is more topical than most dreamboat musicals and boldly combines comedic horror with musical camp. There are swathes of memorable one-liners, from “I love my dead gay son” and “did you have a brain tumour for breakfast?”, to the simple but devastating “how very”. It could be said that Heathers was the prequel to Mean Girls.
The song list has some great tunes, Candy Store, Dead Girl Walking and Our Love is God being the standouts. All the numbers were performed by a talented and enthusiastic cast, but sadly, the acoustics at the Studio Underground let the show down. Yes it was opening night, but too many times the actors were drowned out by the music as both battled to be heard on stage. I’m hoping this is something the production team pick up on in advance of the next shows.
Heathers the Musical is presented by HAMA Productions and runs until the 9th of February at the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre. Tickets are $46 and you can get them here.
Heathers the Musical kills 4 out of 5.
Elaine wonders how the extinction rate would differ if it was the animals with the guns.
Image courtesy of FRINGE WORLD Festival.
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Other Festivals have demonstrated that ethical sources of funding are possible – you can read more, and sign the petition, here: https://www.change.org/p/fringeworld-side-with-the-climate-and-drop-woodside-petroleum // #fossilfreefringe #fossilfreearts // Arts and Cultural Workers for Climate Action