My friend recently showed me the music for Heathers the Musical and I immediately fell in love. It’s raunchy. It’s brilliant. And best of all, the music stemmed from something in the movie Heathers (1988) starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as Veronica and J.D. Heathers (1988) is on Netflix and shows the evolution of Veronica from the outsider turned Heather turned just figuring out what it means to be herself. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater’s dynamic throughout the movie translates well into their musical counterparts.
The plot of the musical is basically spot on with the movie. The songs happen basically where the lines in the movie are said. One of the differences is in the movie, Veronica’s best friend Betty and the character of Martha “Dump Truck” are separate characters, but in the musical they are the same character. I think this was a brilliant decision of the writer of the musical because at the end of the movie, Veronica becomes friends with Martha anyway and we never see Betty anyway. I think this is why they combined the characters.
The musical did a brilliant job with keeping some of the iconic lines from the movie, as in “Why are you now pulling on my dick?” or “Our Love is God.” Both of these and many more create the songs like “Our Love is God” or “Candy Store.” The songs are catchy and the beat of all of them will get stuck in your head for a long time. Interestingly though, the songs actually make the musical a bit sadder than the movie. Songs like “Lifeboat” and “I am Damaged” are done at just the correct times to shock the audience back to what the movie, and I honestly think the musical did a better job of, saying which is the chaos of our teen years. What we all go through maybe not individually, but we know on an emotional level what happens to all of us at one point of our lives or another. The characters are fleshed out to the point where you will cry when Heather McNamara tries to commit suicide and proceeds to sing “Lifeboat.”
I would also like to talk about the sets of both the movie and the musical. Obviously the movie set is what you would think, houses, a high school, a college party, but the musical sets are amazing. It’s a two-tiered stage with the first floor being used for most of the scenes, and the second floor being used to accentuate something like the Heathers in “Candy Store” or when the ghosts haunt Veronica in Act 2. In the very back, there is a cyclorama which they project a lot of colors and effects like where they have the rainbow colors flash cross the back when the fathers sing “I Love my Dead Gay Son.” I think the set is minimalistic, but done well enough that we know where we are in each scene.
Heathers (1988) and Heathers the Musical are both brilliantly done, well written and have just enough touch of 80’s to bring back some nostalgia of that era of movies. J.D. in the movie is more sociopathic, but at least in the musical, we want to cry when he sings “I am Damaged.” If you love the classic, find the musical version on Youtube or something and watch it because you will definitely love all of the characters and their songs.