Teenagers wearing blazers, scrunchies and trench coats fill the Blackpool Opera House, and there’s no mistaking which show is hitting the town. Andy Fickman’s West End hit may have only closed at the Other Palace this month, but its national tour production is still slaying audiences all around the country.
September 1989, Westurberg High. The jocks bully the nerds, the cool girls all have the same name and Veronica just wants to get by until college. Based on the cult-classic movie, Heathers is the classic high school survival story, but with a killer twist.
Jenna Innes (Les Misérables) is gorgeously captivating as protagonist, Veronica. You can’t help but route for her as she stumbles through high school drama, boy troubles, and the added complications of accidental murder. Innes has plenty of opportunities to showcase her effortless vocals, but in “I Say No” she steals the show.
Another showstopping performance would be Kingsley Morton (The Addams Family) as Martha. Morton is adorable as the loyal best friend, and she beautifully sings “Kindergarten Boyfriend” to an eager audience awaiting every line. Jacob Fowler (Rodger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) commands the entire stage as mysterious new boy, J.D. It’s understandable why Veronica is so taken by him, as Fowler entices with a nonchalant demeanour and velvety vocals.
Verity Thompson as Heather Chandler is introduced simply as a “mythic bitch”, which she lives up to from her entrance. Looking every bit the mean girl, Thompson slides downstage with an epic glare, convincing the audience of her status. With a cool, commercial sound she kills the iconic “Candy Store” yet still finds the funny in songs like “Me Inside of Me”. I can’t wait to see what Thompson does next.
Chandler often stands above the action on a balcony over-looking the chaos below, a clever set addition that is utilised throughout. The colourful high school setting twists and turns into a church, a garden and even a cow pasture; the simplicity being the key to let the audience imagine the rest.
“Big Fun” means big energy, and this ensemble has that and more. Every member of this cast is extremely watchable and is a vital part of why this production is a standout one. I’d mention them all if I could, but a special shoutout to the duo of jocks (Morgan Jackson and Alex Woodward) who took the stereotype to the extreme and kept the audience giggling.
As dark and twisted as the tale may be, there are plenty of moments to have a laugh, or maybe even shed a tear. Heather Macnamara (Billie Bowman) brings everything to a halt with her gut-wrenching performance of “Lifeboat” and reminds us of the actual turmoil that these teenagers are going through.
Despite a delayed start and a few sound issues, the audience were still on their feet in appreciation, and I expect this to be the case most nights. Yes, the drama is terrifically heightened, but the story manages to remind you of the joy and innocence of being seventeen that we should hold onto. It may be “corn nuts”, but Heathers sets out to give you one hell of a show and boy does it deliver.
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 12th September 2023
North West End UK Rating: