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Heathers | @sohoplace

Dear diary, Heathers is back once again in London before heading out on its third UK tour. The cult classic musical has arrived for a summer residency at @sohoplace following its hugely successful run at The Other Palace. With a promise to ‘experience Heathers up close and personal like never before’ how does this production compare to its previous runs?

Shining a light on the 1989 movie of the same name, Heathers is set at Westerburg High where popularity is all anyone cares about. Veronica Sawyer, a self confessed nobody is taken under the wing by the affluent, popular and almighty Heathers. Whilst her dreams of ultimate popularity start to come true, Sawyer’s head is turned by the mysterious teen rebel J.D, leading her down a path of self destruction.

For anyone not familiar with the story, it may be worth checking out the trigger warnings beforehand as audience discretion is advised. The musical deals with trauma, sexual assault and teen suicide amongst others. Whilst they are perhaps not dealt with as sensitively as they could have, the themes are remarkably true to high school life and the pressure felt by youngsters today more than ever. The musical’s dark humour glosses over these themes in a satire way which works for the most part due to the camp, over the top nature of the show.  

Whilst this production is essentially the same as previous runs, it doesn’t need do anything new to benefit or adapt due to the intimacy of @sohoplace. As with The Other Palace run, the way the production utilities the simplicity of the set is to be applauded. Never once appearing as a watered down touring set which sometimes happens, Heathers feels as fresh as the day it was first put on. @sohoplace is the West End’s newest theatre and benefits from an incredible sound system too, in which the orchestrations have never been so impactful.

With thirteen members of the cast making their West End debuts, it’s always great to see new faces in these now iconic roles. It’s however, difficult to refrain from drawing comparisons to the iconic former cast members including Carrie Hope Fletcher, Jordan Luke Gage and Jamie Muscato. However this cast do more than enough to stand out on their own merit. 

Reprising her role of Veronica Sawyer from the most recent UK tour is Jenna Innes who seems to have perfected the role after playing it for many months. Confidently acting through song and displaying soaring vocals especially during Dead Girl Walking, Innes is a standout of the production. Equally as impressive and opposite her is Keelan McAuley as J.D, who is perhaps the most perfect yet dysfunctional J.D yet. Playing the character with more humour than his predecessors makes him initially appear more ‘human’ and relatable, before we see a full character arc develop into his more sinister self. McAuley also has a beautiful yet gritty rock tone to his voice which excelled in Freeze Your Brain, whilst keeping the audience gripped throughout the multi layered performance. 

Finalist of ITV’s I Have A Dream Esme Bowdler is the most prominent Heather as ‘Mythic Bitch’ Heather Chandler. Bowdler initially plays the role tentatively, with nerves perhaps getting the better of her at times, but flourishes as the production goes on. Her comic acting is where she truly shone and with a tour full of stops and with no signs of slowing down, Bowlder will only grow into the role and prove what we know is in there. Sedona Sky marks her professional debut as Heather Duke and Heathers alumni Daisy Twells stars as Heather McNamra respectively. Twells particularly stands out with her rendition of her heart wrenching Lifeboat. Each member of the cast could be named for bringing something unique to their roles, something hard to do after the show has been running so long. 

Heathers has an allegiance of dedicated fans, many of whom dress up regularly as their favourite characters from the show. It’s not just successful because of the dedicated corn nuts, Heathers is a guaranteed good night out at the theatre. Yes the themes are challenging, but sometimes dark humour just works in escapism from the real world. There is a reason Heathers keeps returning and that’s because the people want it and with this production, it feels fresher than ever with a stellar cast. Perfectly crafted chaos. Lick. It. Up. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Pamela Raith


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