REVIEW: HEATHERS THE MUSICAL (Theatre Royal Nottingham)

Based on the 80s cult classic by Daniel Waters, Heathers is centered around two misfit teens wearily battling their way through high school. It’s a plot we’ve all watched time and time again, and the story of three high school bullies concocting one cruel plot after another to exert their own dominance against their peers is again a story that could cause a yawn at a mere read. However – this time, the show doesn’t end with our protagonists falling into each other’s arms before their Happily Ever After, providing a refreshing palette cleanser to its adversaries. All in all, Heathers the Musical provides quite a different experience to your average Tuesday night out at the theatre.

Seventeen-year-old Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes) understands high school through a lens that would normally be reserved for an adult several decades her senior. Realising that, in order to survive, she needs to seek approval of ‘the Heathers’ (yes, that would be the three bullies, all called Heather), and the only way to do that is by offering her services through forged notes and hall passes. As time passes, Veronica learns that she wouldn’t remain immune from their cruel behaviour simply by being part of the clique, gradually pushing her towards her new boyfriend J.D. (Simon Gordon) – who just happens to be a dormant psychopath with a working knowledge of bombs. Who knew?

Rebecca Wickes is sensational in the role. With a hugely powerful belt, Rebecca also has a fantastic sense of comedy timing, often provoking laughter simply through a well-timed raised eyebrow. She’s endearing in the role and really helps you believe in Veronica’s sweet if not naïve determination to find the good in everybody (even the dormant psychopaths).

Regina George, oops – Heather Chandler – is the figurehead of our trio of Heathers and was played by Maddison Firth. Quite frankly, Maddison is terrifying and came close to stealing the show. I walked past her outside of the theatre afterward and my instinct was to nervously avert my gaze – a credit to how strong her performance was (I’m sure you’re lovely really Maddison!). Somehow finding the balance between commanding the attention of not only her fellow Heathers and the whole school and being genuinely funny while doing so, Maddison also had an incredibly powerful voice.

Maddison and Rebecca lead a strong, vibrant cast. There were some technical issues from time to time causing a few of the lines of some of the cast to be difficult to hear, but otherwise, this show packs a loud, colourful punch. With a huge number of impossibly catchy tunes, I guarantee you’ll be itching to jump to your feet to dance along by the time you reach the finale. How very!


Reviewed by Rosie Bambury