Naomi MacKay took a trip back to the 80s with the dark but deliciously funny musical Heathers.
Sometimes a trip to the local theatre can just blow you away – and that’s what happened last night when I saw the touring show of hit West End teen musical Heathers.
Unsurprisingly, the show has a cult audience among musical theatre-mad teenagers, but as someone who saw the original film (starring Christian Slater and Winona Ryder) back in the 80s, when I was just coming out of my teenage years, I was just as keen to witness this musical revival for myself.
The tale is dark indeed: Westerberg High School is a tough place for anyone who doesn’t run with the popular crowd, and soon downtrodden school nerd Veronica gets a makeover to become part of the popular ‘Heathers’ clique. But when the mysterious new boy JD joins the school, things take a dark turn, as he persuades her to make the school a better place – but with some deadly consequences.
Touring shows sometimes lack a little from their West End counterparts – but everything about this performance felt like we were sitting in a London theatre (but with more comfortable seats). The cast are hugely talented – Jenna Innes plays Veronica Sawyer, and demonstrates her fantastic vocal skill throughout the show. (Keen-eyed theatre fans will recognise Jenna, as she starred as Snow White in Aylesbury’s 2017 panto!) Jacob Fowler is JD, who cleverly transforms from mysterious, hot, new boy to sinister, unhinged maniac as the show progresses.
Verity Thomson is every inch the mean girl as Heather Chandler, while vocal talent Kingsley Morton is wonderful as Martha Dunnstock, the chubby girl who is the only one to work out what is really going on.
In fact every member of the main cast gets a chance to show off their considerable skills – from Katie Paine (Ms Fleming) with her fabulous rock voice to the comic talents of Alex Woodward and Morgan Jackson as the two jocks Kurt and Kelly.
Despite its dark undertones the show manages to be deliciously funny. But there is a 14-plus age recommendation for good reason – with a theme of teenage suicide and other adult themes, it’s not family friendly by any means.
But as this is half term, and most of the teenagers of the right age will be revising for end of year exams, give them a break, and take them and yourselves for a night of – ahem – killer entertainment.
Heathers runs at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 3 June. As I write this, tickets are still available for as little as £13 for some performances.
Image © Pamela Raith Photography