I will be honest with you all. I am a die-hard Heathers fan so I was extremely tentative walking into the Playhouse last weekend.
The only actor I had ever seen perform from the cast was Jaz Flowers (Hairspray, Hot Shoe Shuffle), and the role of Veronica Sawyer seemed extremely different from anything she had ever played before.
Even after the rave reviews from the sold out season in Sydney, I was scared. I just wanted a performance that was going to blow me away (pun intended) even though I have watched the bootleg of the Off-Broadway production countless times. Just a disclaimer, we don’t support bootlegs here but I know you have all seen it too.
By the end of Act 1, I was in awe. Whilst there were some audio issues in the opening number the cast kept pushing through to deliver and extremely clever performance of Beautiful.
Jaz Flowers was electric. Not have I ever been so in awe of a persons vocal skill. Every single number she made her own through alternate vocal choices which kept the audience on their toes and the material fresh.
One of the most exciting things about this production was that each of these actors made the roles their own. Something that is extremely admirable for a musical that has such a cult following. They took risks, that were obviously supported by their director Trevor Ashley, and they worked.
Whilst the choreography in Candy Store was impressive and innovate it did compromise the vocal performance of Kirby Burgess (Heather Chandler), Erin Clare (Heather McNamara) and Libby Asciak (Heather Duke). However, this version of the song with an included dance break was one of my favourite additions to the show.
Kirby’s performance as Heather Chandler was “so very.” From the physical dedication (especially in Big Fun) to the dry delivery of her lines, she made the audience love to absolutely hate her.
Stephen Madsen’s portrayal of J.D. was one that took this character to the next level. The choices, especially towards the end of Act 2, were breathtaking.
Vincent Hooper and Jakob Ambrose are a comedic match made in heaven. Their portrayals of Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelly had the audience in fits. Their show-stopping number at the top of Act 2 was a performance that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Especially, that golden mishap of a pesky fake moustache detaching itself mid-song.
Lauren McKenna brought the house down with her rousing performance as Ms. Fleming. For a woman in her 20’s to convincingly play a middle aged post menopausal hippy with such flair was so wonderfully amusing.
One of the many things that that I respected about this production was how serious the gun-violence was treated. In the world we live in, especially with current events in the U.S.A, it made me think about how lucky we are to live in a country where we have such strict gun laws.
Whilst Heathers is a dark comedy, at its core there are so many important issues that are woven into the piece. We still, as a world, are dealing with bullying, gun violence and teen suicide, almost 30 years later making Heathers still as relevant as it was in 1989 if not more.
If you can, please get to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to see this smashing show. I can not recommend it enough.
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Images by Kurt Sneddon
Written by Jackie Turner