Heathers the Musical | Review

Heathers the Musical, an all singing all dancing adapted version of the cult 1988 film landed on stage here in the UK back in the summer at The Other Palace originally. The hype surrounding this musical has been difficult to avoid and I found myself getting swept up in it when it announced it's transfer to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, snapping up 2 tickets for the beginning and end of the run. I hadn't watched the film and barely knew the story but their West End Live performance of Candy Store in particular was enough to have me booking. But, did the show live up to it's hype?

Greetings, salutations. Welcome to Westerberg High, where Veronica Sawyer is just another of the nobodies dreaming of a better day. But when she's unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. Until JD turns up, the mysterious teen rebel who teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it's murder being somebody... - Heathers the Musical 

Photo by Pamela Raith

My knowledge of the story of Heathers prior to seeing the show consisted of this; it's a dark comedy about 3 girls named Heathers and it includes a lot of murder. Not exactly the best synopsis is it? The story actually revolves around Veronica Sawyer, played by Carrie Hope Fletcher, and the show starts off at 100mph with Veronica finding herself becoming a Heather, the popular girls at Westerberg High. And then mysterious JD comes along and a lot of murder follows. 

My highlights of the show included the opening number 'Beautiful' with the reveal of the Heathers and Carrie's quick change from old Veronica to Heather's Veronica. 'Candy Store' was of course a favourite too, I was eagerly anticipating it and was surprised that it came so early on in the show, it did feel a little at times like the show had started in the middle of the story rather than at the beginning. I also enjoyed 'Freeze Your Brain' sung by JD, played by Jamie Muscato. A little spoiler alert, Heather Duke's transformation into the head Heather actually made me gasp, it was incredible and will stay in my mind for a long time. For me my highlights really were the most popular songs, ones that I'd heard before or seen performed before. It was the songs that I hadn't heard that I was so eager to love that ended up being a bit of a let down for me. I'm not sure whether it's me or the show, but I just never managed to get into the spirit of excitement that the rest of the crowd were exhibiting.

The show starts off with a bang with 'Beautiful' and 'Candy Store' and for me this sets it up for disappointment because I really felt that things went downhill after those numbers, I had my highlights throughout the rest of the show but nothing else quite lived up to those two, which concerned me since they were all within about the first 15 minutes of the show. I found myself losing concentration a lot whilst watching Heathers, I can't figure out whether this show simply isn't for me or whether it just has a long way to go. It's been a hit amongst it's fans, and amongst Carrie Hope Fletcher's fans and this has carried it through a sold out run at The Other Palace and a transfer to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, so it's clearly doing something right but I just couldn't tap into that myself. For me the story became a little overly ridiculous at times and the stereotypes in it weren't to my taste at all, I wasn't confused but it did leave me just feeling disappointed and a little like I'd watched something completely different to the surrounding crowd who erupted into applause and cheers at every opportunity. 

As for the cast the standout's for me were Jodie Steele as Heather Chandler and Jamie Muscato as JD. Jodie had an incredible amount of power and control whenever she was on stage but she also made me howl with laughter during some of her post-death scenes. Jamie embodied JD perfectly for me, he was dark and mysterious but funny and he drew you in and made you feel both comfortable and uneasy when you developed a crush on a murderer. He was charming and terrifying. Carrie sang each song beautifully, I loved her in Les Mis but in Heathers, she left me wanting more. 

I really did go into Heathers ready to become a mega fan, I even booked a second time to see it in November as I expected to love it so much. Maybe I built it up too much, maybe the hype built it up too much, who knows, but I'm willing to give it a second try next month to see if further into the run I enjoy it more. On to the access at the Theatre Royal Haymarket now!

I hadn't been to TRH prior to seeing Heathers so all my info about access came from their website. At TRH the wheelchair spaces, of which there are two, are situated at the back of the stalls so, I was immediately concerned about the overhang of the royal circle knowing that some of the action takes place on a balcony during the show. To get to the back of the stalls wheelchair users enter and exit via a set of doors just to the left of the main foyer entrance, the main entrance is accessed via several steps so this was totally out of bounds for me. I was able to access my seat and an accessible toilet whilst inside but that was it, I couldn't get to the bar, merchandise and had I left my tickets at the theatre to collect on the day rather than having them posted, I wouldn't have been able to collect them myself so that's something to consider when booking.

As for my view, it's not a huge theatre in terms of depth so I didn't feel far away sitting in the back row of the stalls, I felt pretty close to the action actually. The problem was though, I missed everything that happened on the balcony. There is a moment in particular towards the end of the second act that appeared to be of importance, but I've still no idea what went on during that scene. The balcony was used a lot more than I had expected during the show.

Usually when I go to theatres there is a dedicated member of staff to assist disabled patrons, they are there at the beginning, during interval and at the end to assist with things like buying a programme, getting a drink from the bar and opening doors. Whilst at the beginning I was asked if I wanted a drink from the bar, after that I was pretty much on my own. I managed to flag down a member of staff during the interval to ask about programmes (which are wildly overpriced so for the first time I didn't buy one) but I had to struggle alone, with assistance from other patrons eventually, to open the doors to access the area where the accessible toilet is situated. And then again at the end no one arrived to open the 2 sets of doors so I could leave the theatre, other patrons helped me out again in that instance. The accessible toilet was also small, when you entered there was a small corridor and then it turned into a square shape, I was unable to turn around though and couldn't drive up to the side of the toilet to side transfer either. I have to be honest, overall I wasn't impressed by the access, especially when I compare it to my other experiences at different theatres.

So, maybe Heathers just isn't the show for me! Those who love it seem to really love it but personally, I left with a feeling of disappointment for the first time ever. We've all got at least one show that we don't click with and mine is Heathers.

Heathers is on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until November 24th, buy tickets here.

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