The mean girls of the ’80s are back — croquet mallets and all.
“Heathers The Musical,” a brilliant adaptation of the 1988 cult film with the same name, opened March 31 at New World Stages. The musical follows the relatable story of high school misfit Veronica Sawyer who is taken under the wings of the beguiling and soulless popular girls of Westerberg High — the Heathers. The plot takes an unexpected, dark twist, and the teen angst of Sawyer’s senior year concludes with a few casualties.
The electrifying spirit of this production emanates from lead actress Barrett Wilbert Weed, who plays an incredibly real and compelling Sawyer. Weed’s character is lovable and quirky, and her voice is raw and powerful as she flawlessly executes the musical’s natural dialogue. Alongside Weed, a talented Ryan McCartan plays J.D., a dark yet likable psychopath, as well as Sawyer’s love interest.
“Heathers” is intimate and personal, an atmosphere that not all musicals are capable of producing. New World Stages is modern and trendy, and the small theater feels friendly and informal. The simplistic and humble set allows the impeccable acting and vocals to speak for themselves.
The most powerful force in “Heathers” is the exceptionally catchy music. It leaves theatergoers shamelessly singing the same refrain after they leave the building, so audiences will appreciate the forthcoming cast recording. The music is refreshingly moving and uplifting, even in the midst of a rather dark story — an optimal mix of darkness and comedy that director Andy Fickman somehow succeeds in perfecting.
From the powerhouse opening number “Beautiful” to the finale reprise of “Seventeen,” there is not one dull musical moment in “Heathers.” “Blue,” a drunken bluesy number sung by two “high school has-beens waiting to happen” leaves the audience in hysterics, and the gorgeous blend of Weed’s and McCartan’s voices in “Seventeen” is genuinely touching.
“Heathers” is spunky, raunchy and moving. The curtain call, which involves the cast singing an upbeat reprise of the opening song “Beautiful,” is pure joy and leaves the audience on a musical theater high. Although it is absolutely unnecessary to have seen the film to be able to enjoy the musical, fans of the movie are sure to be satisfied with the inclusion of beloved lines.
“Heathers” is set to run through Sept. 7.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 16 print edition. Caroline Cunfer is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]