REVIEW: HEATHERS THE MUSICAL (The Other Palace)


Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy’s award winning Heathers The Musical had its first London outing as a workshop in 2017 at The Other Palacebefore premiering a full production there in 2018. The dark comedic musical was an instant hit and quickly transferred to the Theater Royal Haymarket in 2018, before touring around the UK in 2021 and opening again at the Theater Royal Haymarket in the same year. After the show’s second successful West End run it was announced the musical would be making its homecoming and opened once again at The Other Palace for a limited run beginning 25th November 2021. Due to the musicals on-going succuss as a cult fan favourite, the show has now been extended at the Other Palace multiple times and welcomes its new Autumn class at Westerberg High as a new cast dons scrunchies and Ich Lüge bullets to tell the story of Veronica, her teenage angst with a body count and the infamous Heathers.

Heathers the Musical is based on the 1989 film of the same name. Starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, the film is seen as one of the greatest cult teen films of all. Heathers The Musical revolves around Westerberg High’s Veronica Sawyer who thinks she’s just another nobody dreaming of a better day. But when she shes the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity may finally join come true. However, when the mysterious teen rebel JD appears at Westerberg that all chances as he teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody!

In this new cast Andy Fickman directs Erin Caldwell (Pretty Woman The Musical) as Veronica Sawyer, Nathanael Landskroner (Waitress, Back To The Future, An Officer and a Gentleman) as our teen rebel Jason ‘J.D’ Dean, Tobias Turley (West Side Story) as Kurt Kelly, Brandon Gale (Saturday Night Fever, Eugenius) as Ram Sweeney, Lydia Eliza Roberts (making her professional stage debut) as Martha Dunnstock, Ashleigh Harvey (Avenue Q, Funny Girl, The Rocky Horror Show) as Ms Fleming, Stuart Turner (Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream) as Ram’s Dad and Ryan Bennett (The Addams Family, Little Women, Jersey Boys) as Kurt’s Dad. They join reining Heathers Maddison Firth (Six The Musical) as Heather Chandler, Vivian Panka (9 to 5 The Musical) as Heather Duke and Jasmine Beel (Avenue Q) as Heather McNamara.

As our sword fighting duo, Tobias Turley as Kurt Kelly and Brandon Gale as Ram Sweeney were an onstage riot. Kurt and Ram are really unlikeable characters however, Turley and Gale’s performances were a lot of fun and the glimpses of Turley’s voice we heard were enchanting. As Ms Fleming, Ashleigh Harvey had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand culminating in her raucous roasting of ex-lover Steve, an audience member who played along beautifully. Stuart Tuner and Ryan Bennet as fathers to Ram and Kurt were priceless as they thoroughly enjoyed Dead Gay Son at the top of the second act, revealing rainbow keck-ties in a celebration of love and acceptance. In her professional debut, Lydia Eliza Roberts gave a stunning performance as Martha Dunnstock. From awkward best friend to suicidal teen, Roberts performance seemed that of a seasoned pro with excellent comic timing and a beautiful nuanced voice that gave the audience chills singing during her second act ballad Kindergarten Boyfriend. Brava!

As our Heathers, Maddison Firth, Vivian Panka and Jasmine Beel were the perfect combination of venerable teen and mythic bitch. Maddison Firth gave a brassy performance as ring-leader Heather Chandler delivering the famous “chainsaw” line with joy. Vivian Panka’s Heather Duke was not having any of it. Unimpressed form the get-go, Panka was priceless performing the choreography of Candy Store without emotion and her Never Shut Up Again was a celebration. Jasmine Beel was a delight as energetic and engaging Heather McNamara performing a Lifeboat that was the best performance of this song I’ve ever seen.

As Veronica Sawyer, Erin Caldwell gave a rolling performance. She commanded the stage with quiet dry wit and delivered the lines with finesse that fitted the character perfectly. Her voice was nuanced and layered, giving throw-back vibes to Barrett Wilbert Weed and Charlotte Wakefield while adding her own spin and power-house vocal throughout. Nathanael Landskroner gave a standout performance as JD leading with a stunning vocal and dark characterization that made audience members jump during Meant to Be Yours, while his duets with Caldwell in Our Love Is God and Seventeen seemed born in musical theater heaven. His quiet imposing characterisation proved it’s not necessary to be the loudest in the room to be noticed as his JD manipulated Westerberg in a way that was thrilling, masterful and creepy all at once.

Heathers The Musical continues it’s run at The Other Palace and has currently been extended until February 2023. A few months ago, the show closed and was filmed live for release on The Roku Channel in the US from September 16th. No date has been set for a UK release yet, but I’m sure its broadcast will spark more interest and new Corn Nuts will visit Westerberg at The Other Palace, visiting this new talented cast and joining the Big Fun of this hilarious, dark, cult, fan favorite musical.

★★★★★

Reviewed by Stuart James

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