Heathers: The Musical
WEA Hunter Academy of Creative Arts
Civic Playhouse (September 7 to 9)
THE cult movie Heathers, about the often violent relationships of 17-year-olds in their final year at a US high school, would seem to be an unlikely basis for a musical. But the cast of this production brought out the dark humour of the book and rock-style music and lyrics by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, and had audience members laughing at situations that no doubt brought back memories of their own school experiences.
Konstanze Koedam as Veronica, who has a fierce sense of right and wrong, increasingly brought out her determination to have her own way, while also trying to get fellow student J.D. (Conagh Punch) to stop trying to change the world through violence and live a normal life with her. The pair made the changing relationship of their characters very believable, with their duet, Dead Girl Walking, after Veronica seduces J.D., expressively bringing out their feelings.
The manipulative three title characters were an interesting mix, with Zoe Walker’s Heather Chandler relishing power, Sarah Graham’s Heather McNamara unhesitatingly following Chandler’s orders, and Shelby Lincoln’s Heather Duke initially being the trio’s whipping girl. Their lively opening number, Candy Store, with them threatening Veronica as a newcomer, established their natures. Walker later had watchers in awe as she downed a drink with an unexpected result.
Jack Twelvetree’s Kurt and Christopher Shanko’s Ram were a rude and insensitive football playing duo, but their occasionally seen fathers, played by Andrew Wu and Kane Sanders, showed what had helped make them that way. Wu and Sanders each impressively played three very different characters; Jessica Jarrett attracted audience sympathy as Martha Dunnstock, a plump girl who was bullied because of her size; and Jamahla Barron, as ageing hippy teacher Miss Fleming, brought out in Shine a Light her determination to prevent student suicides.
There wasn’t a weakness in the large ensemble, with director Lia Bundy and her staging team ensuring that the performers offered a sensitive mix of the light and the dark in scenes such as a funeral service for two murdered students and the occasional visits by the ghosts of dead people to haunt those who had played a role in their decease. The team also made good use of effects such as lighting, with the actors holding bright white lights that looked like candles in Shine a Light, and the students amusingly handling trays in Candy Store. The costumes likewise colourfully brought out the late 1980s setting of the story.