Set in 1989 and based on the cult-classic film Heathers, Heathers: The Musical, onstage now at NRACT, is every bit as fun, lively, and wildly entertaining as its predecessor, perhaps even more so. Featuring a to-die-for cast, fun direction by Peter Comperatore, colorful costumes, and a wonderfully vulgar script with catchy, risque songs, this musical is everything Heathers fans expect it to be…and then some. And, even for those not familiar with the classic film, the musical has merit in its own right, presenting a fully-realized, fully-fabulous story that entertains from start to finish.
And, speaking of the start, this production opens with a great musical number that quickly sets up the harsh politics of Westerburg High School. Serving as the show’s narrator is Veronica Sawyer (Alissa Alba), who starts out as an outsider but who, thanks to her penchant for forging hall passes, ends up as part of the popular crew.
Keeping careful notes in her journal, Veronica acts as a believable and sympathetic guide to this high school where “losers” are endlessly ridiculed and the popular Heathers rule supreme. Alba is the perfect fit for the central character; not only is she a dead-ringer, both in voice and mannerisms, for Winona Ryder, who played the original film role, but she’s quirky, energetic, and incredibly funny. Alba especially nails the physical comedy the role calls for, and viewers will find it hard to take their eyes off of her throughout the entire performance.
Once Veronica teams up with Heather Chandler (Emily Schmid), Heather McNamara (Sabrina Palazzo) and Heather Duke (Christine Lane), she quickly finds that life “at the top” isn’t all that great. Her only escape from dealing with her mean “friends” comes when she meets mysterious J.D. (Melvin Gray), who quickly becomes her lover and with whom she embarks on an accidental path of destruction that turns Westerburg High School upside down and inside out.
Schmid is wonderfully villainous as Heather Chandler, who is the meanest of the “Heathers,” and she’s backed by other high school stereotypes that are played to perfection Ty Myatt and Sai Graham are perfect and perfectly hilarious as horny jocks, Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney, and Hannah Marks is highly sympathetic as the nerdy, sweet, and constantly picked-on Martha Dunstock. Marks, it must be said, delivers one of the show’s most heartfelt musical numbers “Kindergarten Boyfriend.” And, while there are certainly some standouts in this fine cast, even the ensemble cast is fabulous, fabulously clad, and lots of fun to watch at every moment.
All of the musical numbers, which feature frenetic, fun choreography- including some really great slow-motion fight scene choreography-by Brianna Gilmore also shine in this production. Standouts include the hilarious “Blue” and the haunting “Our Love is God” numbers. Really, though, all of the music flows smoothly, helping the story to unfold at a quick, flawless pace that keeps viewers engaged and in the moment.
In fact, “flawless” is a great way to describe this musical in general. Thanks to the meticulous direction of Comperatore, the standout performance of Alba and others, and a production crew that has pulled out all the stops, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect, more endearing, or just plain more fun version of Heathers: The Musical. Don’t miss this one!
The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents HEATHERS THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. July 16, 3 p.m. July 17, 8 p.m. July 22 and 23, 3 p.m. July 24, 8 p.m. July 29 and 30, and 3 p.m. July 31 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://nract.org/tickets.
SHOW: http://www.nract.org/shows#/heathers/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/980491705353909.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
Heathers (1988 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/19637/Heathers/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097493/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathers (Wikipedia).
Heathers the Musical (2014 Off-Broadway musical): http://heathersthemusical.com/ (official website), http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/56725/heathers-the-musical (Samuel French, Inc.), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/5729 (Off-Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathers:_The_Musical (Wikipedia).
Kevin Murphy (music, lyrics, and book): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Murphy_%28screenwriter%29 (Wikipedia).
Laurence O’Keefe (music, lyrics, and book): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0614441/ (Internet Movie Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_O’Keefe_%28composer%29 (Wikipedia).
Peter Comperatore (Raleigh, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/pete.comp.3 (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.