Heathers: The Musical

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Heathers: The Musical
Music Laurence O'Keefe
Kevin Murphy
Lyrics Laurence O'Keefe
Kevin Murphy
Book Laurence O'Keefe
Kevin Murphy
Basis 1988 film Heathers
Productions 2010 New York Concert
2013 Hollywood
2014 Off-Broadway

Heathers: The Musical is a rock musical with music, lyrics, and a book by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy and based on the 1988 film Heathers.

Background[edit]

The show's director, Andy Fickman, had been working with Daniel Waters (the screenwriter of the film) on the musical. After seeing Laurence O'Keefe's work with Legally Blonde and how he transitioned film to theatre, he decided to pair him with Reefer Madness collaborator Kevin Murphy. Flickman said of the experience, "we found that Heathers gave a great deal of opportunity for ‘80s commentary and a great chance for music and storytelling".[1]

Synopsis[edit]

Act 1[edit]

In 1989, seventeen year-old Veronica Sawyer narrates her thoughts like diary entries (as she will throughout the show), lamenting how "Beautiful" kindergarten was compared the hellish competitive social hierarchy of Westerburg High School. She introduces Ram (the quarterback) and Kurt (the "smartest" football player) as she and her best friend Martha "Dumptruck" Dunstock have their lunch trays knocked out of their hands by the two jocks. The only students unaffected by name calling and bullying are the Heathers: a clique of three girls each named Heather who "float above it all", envied, hated and admired. Heather Duke (green) is conniving and bulimic, Heather McNamara (yellow) is a dim cheerleader, and their leader, Heather Chandler (red) is "a mythic bitch." Veronica asks to sit at their lunch table just once to improve her social status. They agree after Veronica proves a skilled forger of hall passes, decide to give her a makeover ("For a greasy little nobody, you do have good bone structure..."), and absorb her into their clique. The Heathers discover Martha has had a crush on Ram since kindergarten, and Veronica tries to draw a line by refusing to forge a love note to the unpopular girl inviting her to meet him at a Homecoming party as a prank, ("It'll give her shower masturbation material for a week!") The Heathers insist she choose between the "Candy Store" of advantages their way offers, or end up dying unpopular and alone as they purport Martha will. Ram and Kurt decide they don't like a new student's Bo Diddley-esque dark trench coat and start a fight during which time slows down as the new kid beats the crap out of them and Veronica goes weak-kneed and wishes he'd "Fight For Me". The Heathers play croquet at Veronica's house before the homecoming party, and Heather Chandler obliquely insults Veronica's parents, who aren't quite sure they like their daughter's new friends.

On the way to the party, Veronica is sent into a 7-Eleven to buy Heather Chandler some corn nuts and encounters J.D., the kid in the trench coat, who offers to buy her a Slurpee, extolling its abilities to "Freeze Your Brain" and numb the pain of everything unpleasant in life (his mother is dead, his father works in construction demolition taking them to a new city every few weeks, and is blithely weird.) At Ram's house, his and Kurt's fathers leave for a fishing trip, leaving the house clear for illicit underage "Big Fun". Veronica gets drunk. Martha shows up with sparkling cider looking for Ram and is blindfolded in preparation for a prank which has her striking a piñata of a pig dressed like her with a "Martha Dumptruck" sign around its neck. Veronica, emboldened by alcohol, stops Martha and fights with the Heathers, hurls the piñata into the pool, and ultimately vomits on Heather Chandler's shoes ("Lick it up, baby, lick it up!") proclaiming she's resigning from the Heathers. Heather Chandler informs Veronica that she "doesn't get to go back to being a nobody" and asks where she'll be eating lunch in the cafeteria now. Veronica, still slightly intoxicated, makes the decision that she wants to spend her last thirty hours as a "Dead Girl Walking" "getting freaky" with J.D. and breaks in through his bedroom window. The next morning Veronica realizes what she's done and decides to apologize to Heather with J.D. tagging along. Heather Chandler is hung over still in bed and yells for a "prairie oyster" hangover cure which Veronica decides to spit into for revenge. J.D. jokingly suggests they also add toxic drain cleaner to it as revenge, pouring it into a cup which Veronica mistakenly grabs while kissing him before they go up. Heather wants Veronica to apologize on her knees to humiliate her in front of JD, then drinks from the poisoned cup handed to her and promptly dies, gripping Veronica's leg. J.D. suggests it will look like a suicide if they plant Heather's copy of The Bell Jar, even though Veronica doubts anyone would believe Heather had nothing to live for. J.D. thinks that works even better and they write a note making Heather's "The Me Inside of Me" seem a lot more complex and deeper than she actually was "You're making me sound like Air Supply!" she complains in death at first, until she begins relishing the outpouring of sympathy from the students and faculty (which she will continue throughout the show, eternally gagging on her regurgitated corn nuts to torment Veronica.) "I'm bigger than John Lennon!" she proclaims.

Heather Duke shows up on every TV channel, lapping the attention from Heather Chandler's death. Veronica responds alone to a call for help from Heather McNamara at the cemetery where she and Heather Duke are trapped in a van, accosted by Kurt and Ram who have become drunk on the alcohol they intended to pour on the grave and are now "Blue" and horny for any girl who is not locked inside a vehicle. Veronica manages to fend them off with more alcohol. The next day Veronica confronts them at Chandler's locker where Heather Duke is scavenging Chandler's red scrunchie of power and is making good on her promise to ruin Veronica by backing Kurt and Ram's story that they had "a sword fight in her mouth" ("Blue (Reprise)"). The jocks are also able to sucker punch J.D. and get their own revenge. Veronica breaks down and J.D. plots retaliation by having Veronica lure them to the woods to "make the rumor true" during which they will shoot them with tranquilizer darts that will put them out long enough for cops to find a forged suicide note proclaiming they are gay lovers. Veronica is hesitant, reassured by J.D. proclaiming "Our Love is God". The plan goes off without a hitch, but with actual bullets.

Act 2[edit]

Act 2 begins with Ram and Kurt's joint funeral. Their fathers decide to accept their "homosexuality" and also reveal that they are gay and had a fling in the summer of '83 ("My Dead Gay Son"). After the funeral JD proposes the idea of hurting Heather Duke since she spread the rumors but Veronica wishes they could stop killing and just be normal ("Seventeen"). Ms. Fleming, the school guidance counselor, begins a therapy assembly in order to discuss the suicides ("Shine a Light") she asks everybody to share their feelings but Heather McNamara is the only one to step up. She confesses that she has had many thoughts of suicide, adding that she is afraid that if she "says the wrong thing or wears the wrong outfit" they will all shun her ("Lifeboat"). Heather Duke and the rest of the students (except for Veronica and JD) mock her for crying and having suicidal thoughts, leading to Heather Duke being suspended. Veronica tries to admit she killed Heather, Ram, and Kurt but everybody laughs at her and does not believe it. Heather McNamara tries to commit suicide by overdosing on pills while the students who were mean to her earlier call her pathetic and tell her to kill herself ("Shine a Light (Reprise)").

Veronica stops her and forces her to spit out the pills and then comforts her, the two of them become close friends. JD tells Veronica he plans to kill Heather Duke because she was now mean to both Veronica and Heather but Veronica draws the line and breaks up with him. Martha comes up to Veronica saying that she thinks Ram was murdered because he is not gay since he likes her. Veronica is forced to admit to her that she faked the note in order to hide her secret. This leaves Martha devastated so she laments on her relationship with Ram in kindergarten and then jumps off a bridge ("Kindergarten Boyfriend"). The jump results not in her death, but only a few broken bones. On the night of the school pep rally, JD comes after Veronica with a gun, planning to force her to help him blow up the school as part of his master plan. ("Yo Girl")

He arrives in her room to see that Veronica is hiding in a closet. He confesses to her and reveals that Heather Duke passed around a school-wide suicide note, disguised as a petition for the student body to have a student suicide commemoration holiday. ("Meant to Be Yours") JD breaks into the closet and sees that Veronica has hanged herself. He leaves after he hears Veronica's mom, who enters the room. Veronica reveals that she faked her death, and immediately chases after JD to the pep rally ("Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)"). She finds JD in the boiler room. He has a bomb hooked up, and Veronica begs him to disarm it. He tries to shoot her but they fight over the gun, leading JD to accidentally shoot himself. Veronica then takes the bomb to the football field, intending to save the other students back at the school by sacrificing herself. However, an injured JD hobbles over and demands that he takes the bomb from her. He tells her that he's far beyond repair, but that Veronica can undo the damage he has done if she stays alive. ("I Am Damaged"). The bomb explodes, killing JD, wounding Veronica and shaking the building. The students and faculty discover the injured Veronica, who announces that the Heathers are over. She takes Heather Chandler's red scrunchie from Heather Duke and puts it on. The Heathers are thus dissolved. Veronica invites Martha and Heather McNamara to come over to her house and watch a movie with her. The students and teachers sing about starting anew and becoming better people. ("Seventeen (Reprise)").

Productions[edit]

There was a reading sometime in 2010, with Kristen Bell as Veronica, Christian Campbell as J.D., Jenna Leigh Green, Corri English, and Christine Lakin as the Heathers.[2]

On September 13 and 14, it was presented as a concert at Joe's Pub. The show was directed by Andy Fickman, and it starred Annaleigh Ashford as Veronica Sawyer, Jeremy Jordan as Jason Dean, Jenna Leigh Green as Heather Chandler, Corri English as Heather McNamara and Christine Lakin as Heather Duke, James Snyder as Kurt Kelly, PJ Griffith as Ram Sweeney, Julie Garnyé as Martha Dumptruck Dunnstock, Eric Leviton as Ram's Dad, Kevin Pariseau as Kurt's Dad/Principal, Jill Abramovitz as Ms. Fleming/Veronica's Mom, Tom Compton as Hipster Dork/Preppy Kid, Alex Ellis as Goth Girl/English Teacher/Young Republicanette and Kelly Karbacz as Stoner Chick/School Psychologist.[3]

The show played at Los Angeles’s Hudson Backstage Theatre for a limited engagement on the weekends from September 21, 2013 to October 6, 2013. The cast included Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica, Ryan McCartan as J.D., Sarah Halford as Heather Chandler, Kristolyn Lloyd as Heather Duke, and Elle McLemore as Heather McNamara.[4]

In 2013, It was announced that Heathers: The Musical would be brought to Off-Broadway, previews beginning in March. In February 2014, the cast was announced. It included Barrett Wilbert Weed and Ryan McCartan reprising their roles as Veronica and J.D, Jessica Keenan Wynn as Heather Chandler, Elle McLemore as Heather McNamara and Alice Lee as Heather Duke.[5] The show began previews on March 15, 2014 and opened on March 31, 2014.

A cast album was recorded on April 15–16, 2014 with an in-store and digital release of June 17, 2014.[6] It was released a week early on June 10, 2014.

On June 9, Dave Thomas Brown replaced Ryan McCartan as JD and Kristolyn Lloyd assumed the role of Heather Duke, replacing Alice Lee who is on Rising Star. On June 16, Charissa Hogeland replaced Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica. Hogeland was previously the Dance Captain for the show and played the part of New Wave Party Girl, understudying the roles of Veronica, Heather Chandler, and Heather Duke.

Heathers: The Musical played its final performance at New World Stages on August 4, 2014.[7] [8]

Principal roles and original cast[edit]

Character Original Off-Broadway Cast Closing Off-Broadway Cast
Veronica Sawyer Barrett Wilbert Weed Charissa Hogeland
Jason "J.D." Dean Ryan McCartan Dave Thomas Brown
Heather Chandler Jessica Keenan Wynn
Heather McNamara Elle McLemore
Heather Duke Alice Lee Kristolyn Lloyd
Martha Dunnstock Katie Ladner
Kurt Kelly Evan Todd
Ram Sweeney Jon Eidson
New Wave Party Girl Charissa Hogeland Lauren Nicole Cipoletti
Young Republicanette Cait Fairbanks
Stoner Chick Rachel Flynn
Beleaguered Geek Dustin Sullivan
Hipster Dork/Officer McCord Dan Domenech
Preppy Stud/Officer Milner AJ Meijer
Ram's Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach Ripper Anthony Crivello
Kurt's Dad/Veronica's Dad/Principal Gowan Daniel Cooney
Veronica's Mom/Ms. Fleming Michelle Duffy
Swings Molly Hager, Matthew Schatz

Musical Numbers[edit]

†" Not featured on World Premiere Cast Recording

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2014 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actress in a Musical Barrett Wilbert Weed Nominated
Outstanding Music Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy Nominated
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical Barrett Wilbert Weed Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer Marguerite Derricks Nominated

External links[edit]

References[edit]