Theatre review: Heathers the musical at Manchester Palace Theatre

The cast of Heathers The Musical - UK Tour 2021

The cast of Heathers The Musical - UK Tour 2021 - Credit: Pamela Raith

Homing in on the universal agonies of teenage life – teen romance, being different, bullying – Heather's the Musical retells the 80’s cult classic film, Heathers, with a catchy musical repertoire. Having been born in the 90’s, Heather’s wasn’t a film I’d ever come across (though I do love The Breakfast Club – because who doesn’t?), I came to the show with no expectations, which I think was key to my enjoyment.

Merryl Ansah, Maddison Firth & Lizzie Parker

Merryl Ansah, Maddison Firth & Lizzie Parker - Credit: The cast of Heathers The Musical - UK Tour 2021

The Palace Theatre was heaving; I’d underestimated how popular the show was, some had even come dressed up in the iconic red, yellow and green blazers. As we walked to our seats to the tunes of Rick James’ Super Freak, the room felt giddy with anticipation and as soon as the stage lit up and Veronica Sawyer (played by Rebecca Wickes), the cheers and claps from the audience confirmed my thoughts.

The musical loosely follows the plot of the film, following outsider Veronica as she manoeuvres through Westerburg High, a school where cliques rule, jocks dominate, and all the popular girls are named Heather. Unlike other films dealing with teen angst, Heathers includes hilarious dark comedy, tongue-in-cheek jokes around sex, love and, of course, murder.

The angry and determined Veronica meets and falls for, outcast JD, where during their romance as well as singing about the numbing the pains of life with slushies, commit murder to change the hierarchy at the high school, though it ultimately ends in an explosive (if you know) confrontation.

Rebecca Wickes (Veronica) & Simon Gordon (JD) - Heathers UK Tour 2021

Rebecca Wickes (Veronica) & Simon Gordon (JD) - Heathers UK Tour 2021 - Credit: Pamela Raith

Aside from the body counts growing and dark subject matters being addressed with no subtly, the joy felt from the catchy musical numbers was unmistakable. The crowd cheered when Kurt Kansley and Andy Brady, the fathers of the two jocks who were murdered, sung My Dead Gay Son, taking us through an uplifting musical number, singing about love and acceptance. Another standout was Veronica’s number, Seventeen, a lovely ballad in which she pleads to be a normal, non-murdering teenager (didn’t we all?). The dark humour featured throughout – when the teacher Ms Fleming called on an audience member to break up with him, calling out his baldness, the crowd loved it and the laughs were deafening.

L-R Rebecca Wickes (Veronica) & Simon Gordon (JD)

Rebecca Wickes (Veronica) & Simon Gordon (JD) - Credit: Pamela Raith

Like most musicals, its ending wrapped up very quickly, simplifying the teenage struggles of fitting in and everyone becoming friends like nothing monumental had just happened. But people didn’t come to see Heathers the Musical for a well-rounded resolution, they’re there for an evening of fun, a bit of nostalgia because we’ve all been teenagers and general enjoyment with a catchy soundtrack. I went into the theatre with no expectations and came away googling the film, with plans to watch it. Any show that has iconic catchphrases (some are a bit too risqué to write down), is something I know I'll enjoy. For anyone out there who hasn’t heard of it or doesn’t want to ruin their love of the film, I urge you to give it a try. You'll come away with a few chuckles and humming your love for a slushy.

The show’s only in theatres for a short time, so don't miss out on a great chance for some nostaligic fun, or a new discovery.

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