REVIEW: HEATHERS (Theatre Royal Haymarket)

Before Mean Girls, there was Heathers. Although the film didn’t have a hugely positive reception, it has become something of a cult classic. Judging by the audience response, the musical version is just as popular!

Set amidst the typical teenage angst and high school cliques, including the infamous ‘Heathers’, one girl is determined to fight back against the bullies.

When Veronica (the incredible Christine Bennington) is tricked into killing her ‘best friend’ by her boyfriend JD (Jordan Luke Gage), they make it look like a suicide… and then they keep going!

It’s a fun musical that speaks to anyone who’s ever struggled to fit in. The cast brings so much energy that it’s infectious and even the sceptics in the audience can’t help but be swept up in the vibe.

Bennington is perfect as Veronica. She brings something new to the role and this shines through in every song or action. Gage is a fantastic JD, reminisce of Sebastian in Cruel Intentions: his body language, attitude and stage presence are excellent and he and Bennington have very strong chemistry (which isn’t surprising as they starred alongside each other previously in Bat Out Of Hell).

The whole cast are remarkable, with Jodie Steele reprising her role as Heather Chandler; Bobbie Little and Frances Mayli McCann bring a fresh perspective to the other two Heathers and the three of them contrast nicely.

Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy’s songs range from the sweet ballad ‘Seventeen’ and the cute ‘Candy Store’ to the power song ‘I Say No’. But there is a good split between humour and emotion in most of the songs. Maybe they’re a bit too upbeat in places, but this enhances the comic factor. Gary Lloyd’s excellent choreography brings another level to the show, which has flourished under Andy Fickman’s direction.

Parts of it perhaps haven’t aged well and are a bit cringeworthy, but it’s all done in good humour; I would disagree with others that it glamourises bulimia – it reminds people that it happens and is another way teenagers cope with stress and depression.

Overall it’s a good-humoured show, giving teenagers hope that it really does get better after high school. For those of us who finished school a while ago, let’s just say there’s a reason we like to lose ourselves in the world of musicals!

★★★★

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes