Heathers the Musical – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review
by Fran Winston
Find out more about Heathers The Musical here.
Until October 23rd. Nightly at 7.30pm with matinees at 2.30pm on October 20th and 23rd.
Please note that you will be required to present an EU Digital Covid Certificate or HSE/NHS Covid-19 proof of Full Vaccination or recent recovery from the virus record, along with photo ID to gain entry.
Almost a year to the day since this award-winning, black comedy musical was supposed to hit the Bord Gais Energy Theatre stage it finally arrives and I’m not saying there were one or two fans in the audience but many of them actually came dressed the Heathers for the occasion.
If you’re not familiar with the story, it is based on the 1988 film of the same name starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. As with so many 1980’s teen movies, it followed a high school student who just wanted to fit in and be popular, so she hangs out with a clique known as the Heathers, despite finding herself unhappy with the way they treat others. However, after meeting an attractive and rebellious new classmate JD she finds herself sucked down a dark path as he teaches her that being a somebody can be murder.
Although the movie wasn’t a huge hit at the time it has gone on to become a cult classic. It is an extremely dark tale featuring suicide, attempted rape and gun violence. But then again, many musicals are based on extremely dark source material. While this stays true to the film it does eliminate one or two scenes and also adds its own original elements. In a couple of cases, it sanitises some of the movies more unpleasant scenes but this is understandable for a theatre show. That said, this is definitely not suitable for children.
The cast are impressive. They take the story and run with it and the energy never dips at all. They are helped by the fact that the song lyrics are extremely clever and manage to maintain the gravitas of the underlying story without dumbing it down, even when the purpose of the song is to convey a character’s shallowness. However, occasionally the music (which isn’t as 80s as it seems to think it is) risks making some scenes seem far lighter than the subject matter would dictate.
I should also mention the lighting which is used to great effect and the choreography which is far more complex than it appears when you are watching the cast seamlessly perform it.
There have been lots of musical adaptations of films in recent years and many of them fall flat but this is very well executed. Its relatable themes and the nostalgia element will ensure that it has a broad appeal. It possibly could have pushed the envelope a bit and gone even darker but that would probably diminish its appeal. Whereas this takes you on a (mainly) fun journey through teenage angst and it is only afterwards that you really process the heavier elements of the story.