Why Heathers: The Musical is so Good

Did I watch a recording of the West End production of Heathers: The Musical on YouTube? Yes, yes I did.

And I loved every minute of it.

The 1989 movie Heathers is one of my favorites. Coming out shortly after the hit Beetlejuice, this is another great movie starring Winona Ryder—while not always being the greatest actress, she’s in a ton of movies I love. We follow Veronica Sawyer as she teams up with the anti-social—and psychopathic—JD, to seek revenge on her best friends, the Heathers.  This movie is so tremendously 80’s, from the hair and clothing to some of the greatest one-liners I’ve ever heard. This dark comedy is so twisted and utterly quotable, solidifying itself as a cult classic.

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I know this is a little explicit, but this line is iconic

In 2014—25 years later—we were graced with the Off-Broadway production of Heathers: The Musical. I remember my sister pulling up the bootleg copy from YouTube, a shaky and grainy video starring a young Barrett Wilbert Weed. I watched a few clips, enjoying the songs but not really connecting to anything (except for the song “Candy Store”—it’s a total bop). It wasn’t until a few years later after spending too much time on my Instagram explore page one night, I came across lots of clips from the West End Production that had just gone Off Broadway. I was hooked. It only took me a year and a global quarantine to finally sit down to watch the show – in five 30min increments.

I loved it. I’ve had the songs stuck in my head for the past two weeks and I don’t even care. Not every song is a slam dunk, but the ones that are good, are really good. I think Carrie Hope Fletcher was a really great and fun Veronica that performed with a great deal of  innocence and vulnerability. Barrett is a belter and sometimes it felt like she was screaming, whereas Carrie’s voice—which is still very powerful—sounds much softer and pretty during songs like “Seventeen”.

The quotable lines from the movie weave their way throughout the show in smart ways. Another great thing about the musical vs. the movie is what they did with the character of JD. He’s still a psychopath, but unlike the movie, he really does care about Veronica. Christian Slater did a spectacular job of playing this sarcastic asshole who is using Veronica to get to the others and really doesn’t care what happens to her. Musical JD is dealing with a traumatic childhood and once he meets Veronica he falls hard. All he cares about is making her happy, in an obsessive way.

If you’re a musical fan, listen to some of the songs or watch the clips online. Like the movie, it’s developed quite the cult following. And please, don’t let the fact that they did a musical Riverdale episode centered around it turn you off—we’ll just try to forget that ever happened….

I shall leave you with my favorite number of the show:

It’s my goal to learn the choreography for this song

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