Heathers – The Musical has taken the theatre community by storm since its 2014 Off-Broadway debut. With its rousing 80’s rock inspired score and dark comedic undertones, it is no wonder that Heathers has fast become one of the most sought out cult musicals of the twenty-first century.

Erika Naddei as Veronica and the cast of Heathers. Image by Benjamin Tubb-Hearne and Ken Dickson.

Beenleigh’s Phoenix Ensemble, scoring the Queensland Amateur debut, accepted the challenge of following up the award-winning Australian tour. The theatre company presented their rendition to the throes of diehard fans waiting for their latest fix, of the scrunchie-wearing, croquet-playing, original mean girls.

Erika Naddei brought charm to the leading character of Veronica, an awkward teenage girl caught up in a myriad of bad decisions. Naddei’s counterpart, Liam Chapman as bad boy J.D., played the role with intensity and a clear understanding of the character’s challenges and demons.

Whilst it is great to give willing and enthusiastic players the opportunity to be participate in such productions, there were too many people in the ensemble, which lead to many scenes throughout the production feeling crowded in the wonderful and intimate space that Phoenix provides. This overcrowding also caused issues of vocal balance, when leading players were not able to be heard over the ensemble, in addition to many awkward moments with too many people milling on stage, seemingly without a purpose in the scene.

Erika Naddei as Veronica and Liam Chapman as J.D. Image by Benjamin Tubb-Hearne and Ken Dickson. 

Lauren Wormald’s choreography was sharp and exciting. This was evident particularly in the numbers Big Fun and Candy Store, where it was clever, character driven and dynamic; a clear highlight of the show.

The sound balance on the opening night performance was, frustratingly, disappointing. With a rousing rock score such as this, one hopes to get lost in the energy of the music, which is specifically what drives this musical. I hope that over the course of the production, the Phoenix Ensemble team figure out the balance required to create that heart-thumping, rebellious energy so many have come to associate with Heathers the Musical.

While the lead actors were outstanding, unfortunately it was the size of ensemble and lack of cohesion that was this production’s downfall. That being said, I truly hope that they are able to resolve these issues throughout their run and transform this show into the rousing, high energy production we know it to be. The leading cast members, Naddei in particular, must be commended for their commitment to character and vocal performances throughout the show.

To book tickets head to www.phoenixensemble.com.au