By Liv Wilson
Heathers The Musical
Lyrics and Book by Laurence O'Keefe & Kevin Murphy
Based on the 1989 film ‘Heathers’
Director Kade O’Rourke
Choreographer Lauren Bensted
Musical Directors Caitlan Wall & Eliza De Castrol
Season runs until the 10th of April at the Ron Hurley Theatre in Seven Hills. Tickets start from $35. Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=864256&
Heathers The Musical is the darkly delicious story of Veronica Sawyer, a brainy, beautiful teenage misfit who hustles her way into the most powerful and ruthless clique at Westerberg High: the Heathers. Before she can get comfortable atop the high school food chain, Veronica falls in love with the dangerously sexy new kid J.D. When Heather Chandler, the Almighty, kicks her out of the group, Veronica decides to bite the bullet and try to reconcile with Heather but J.D. has another plan for that bullet.
Millennial Production’s performance of Heathers The Musical showcases an extraordinarily talented cast & highlights the importance of having high-quality independent theatre companies in Brisbane.
Flawlessly directed by Kade O’Rourke, the show captured the film’s nostalgia whilst adding a welcome spin to several characters and scenes. While set in the 80’s I enjoyed that Millennial Production’s rendition wasn’t trapped in the ’80s. Many of the acting and vocal choices helped to position the show in a more modern timeframe, I loved this directional choice.
It’s no secret that Heathers The Musical requires a cast of seasoned vocalists to keep up with the demands of this advanced score. I was blown away by Millenial’s cast, especially their vocal stamina in the ensemble numbers. Beautiful, Candy Store and Big Fun were great examples of O’Rourke’s smart casting and direction, as well as why it’s important to focus on promoting quality vocals, acting and dancing, equally.
The star of the show was undeniably Erika Naddei, who played Veronica Sawyer to perfection. Her powerful vocals were showstopping & her quirky characterisation was charming. Her connection to Veronica’s struggle between right and wrong was very moving & she held the audience in the palm of her hand the entire show. Naddei is a true triple threat & one to keep an eye out for in future productions.
Elliot Gough’s menacing portrayal of J.D. was captivating from the second we saw him on stage. He put a lot of backstory into the character and this came through nicely in his performance.
The chemistry between Naddei and Gough was stunningly painful. Dead Girl Walking was both sung and acted to perfection and became one of the standout numbers in the show. I was particularly drawn to the ‘unhinged’ nature of the two characters at this point in the show, a nice directional choice by O’Rourke.
Another stand out was Chelsea Sales, who played Heather Chandler. She dominated the antagonising role and drew my eye every time she was on stage. Her vocal strength was amazing and she was one of the few ‘belters’ that didn’t overdo it. Her portrayal of Chandler was piercing and she found a way to make the popular character her own.
The ‘other’ Heathers were played by Josie Ross and Marguerite Du Plessis; both ladies added flair to the characters and opted for a more non-traditional portrayal of Duke and McNamara. These two performers had very big voices and unfortunately, their microphone levels were significantly louder than the rest of the cast making some of their featured moments overpowering.
Luckily, a very simple fix and something that will likely become smoothed out in future performances. This certainly didn’t take away from their moving performances of ‘Never Shut Up Again’ and ‘Lifeboat’.
Brandon Taylor-Cotton and Matt Domingo had impeccable comedic timing & very strong vocals, especially in You’re Welcome and Big Fun.
One of the strongest elements of the show was the choreography, led by Lauren Bensted. She clearly took the demanding vocals into account when planning her routines which lead to a very confident performance vocally and physically. The signature moves in Candy Store & Dead Girl Walking were kept in the show, which was a treat for the die-hard Heathers fans like myself. Big Fun, Dead Gay Son & Shine A Light were examples of amazing ensemble choreography & smart use of the stage.
Taylor Andrews managed all costuming and was spot on in every aspect. A lot of the signature costuming elements were preserved and every character, even the ensemble, were dressed perfectly.
A special mention to the show’s lighting team, Perry Sanders and Zach Powson who ran the show smoothly with several very fast lighting cues. Their use of cool blue lighting for ‘Dead Chandler/Kurt/Ram’ added a nice contrast to the bright lighting of the leads. I particularly loved the on-theme spotlight for the Heather’s in Candy Store- a very nice touch and one that I haven’t seen in other productions of this musical.
I must say, the independent theatre scene has met its match in Millennial Productions! This company is the real deal and if Heathers The Musical is any indication of their standard, Brisbane is in for a treat!
I implore all musical theatre lovers to see this show; you’ll leave the theatre feeling energised and singing the catchy songs for days to come.