Heathers: The Musical. New World Stages (see Off Broadway). Book, music and lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe. Directed by Andy Fickman. With Barrett Wilbert Weed, Ryan McCartan. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
Heathers: In brief
An unhappy teenager and her rebellious new boyfriend team up to rid their high school of its most popular and toxic students in this musical stage version, cowritten by Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy) and Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness), of the hit 1989 dark comedy film. Director Andy Fickman controls the damage.
Heathers: Theater review by David Cote
At the risk of sounding, y’know, bitchy, you sorta know what to expect from a musical based on the 1989 cult movie Heathers. There will be the three titular mean girls, a fat gal cruelly nicknamed Martha Dumptruck and a father grimly eulogizing his “dead gay son.” You hope there won’t be cheesy Winona Ryder or Christian Slater impressions, but you’re fully prepared for a score that parodies ’80s pop as well as shoulder-padded costumes from the late Reagan years. What I didn’t foresee—and found utterly delightful—was a depth of feeling and a lyrical polish that elevate the material above a retro goof.
Heathers: The Musical has a book and score (by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe) filled with well-crafted songs and inspired comic lyrics. The team can confidently juggle raunch (a doo-wop number about blue balls) with a plangent ode to fading youth (“Seventeen”). In fact, this is the first musical I can remember since Spring Awakening to capture the pain and ecstasy of being a teen.
Weed (great pipes and fresh comedy chops) is marvelous as eternally sarcastic Veronica, the smart girl who longs to strut alongside the Heathers (Jessica Keenan Wynn, Elle McLemore and Alice Lee, all gorgeous poison). McCartan smolders nicely as J.D., the trench-coated outsider who manipulates Veronica into abetting his psycho killing spree.
“High school doesn’t end,” an injured but wiser Veronica sings late in the show, realizing that it’s (OMFG) actual training for the real world. Sassy, sexy and oh-so-smart, Heathers deserves to run with the popular crowd.—Theater review by David Cote
THE BOTTOM LINE We give this musical adaptation a solid A.
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