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Heathers: The Musical is a rock musical with music, lyrics and book by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, based on the 1988 film of the same name written by Daniel Waters. After a sold-out Los Angeles tryout, the show moved Off-Broadway in 2014. After the run in 2014 the show had an Off-West End run in 2018 and then transferred to the West End in 2018 for a limited engagement, this included the addition of some new songs.

While it is a high-energy black comedy, the show opens conversations about dark issues, including bullying, teen suicide, sexual assault, and violence in schools.

Synopsis[]

Act One[]

September 1st, 1989.

17-year-old Veronica Sawyer despairs at Westerburg High School's hellish social hierarchy, where students like Martha Dunnstock are tormented by jocks Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelly, and the school is ruled by the Heathers: weak-willed Heather McNamara, bulimic Heather Duke, and "mythic bitch" queen Heather Chandler. When Veronica's talent for forgery gets the Heathers out of detention, they give her a makeover and elevate her to their inner circle ("Beautiful").

Chandler discovers Martha's crush on Ram, and orders Veronica to forge a love letter from him to Martha, tempting Veronica with the promise of popularity ("Candy Store"). The mysterious, poetry-quoting new kid, Jason "J.D." Dean, criticizes Veronica for betraying her friend. J.D. wins a fight against the jocks, and Veronica finds herself unexpectedly attracted ("Fight for Me"). Veronica's parents confess to Veronica that they aren't sure they like their daughter's new friends and would prefer if she was friends with Martha again. ("Candy Store (Playoff)").

Veronica flirts with J.D. at a 7-Eleven, and he extols the virtues of the Slurpee for numbing his grief ("Freeze Your Brain"). At Ram's homecoming party, Veronica gets increasingly drunk and high ("Big Fun"). When the Heathers cruelly prank Martha, Veronica angrily resigns from the clique and vomits on Chandler's shoes. Her reputation in ruins, Veronica breaks into J.D.'s bedroom and loses her virginity to him ("Dead Girl Walking").

After tormented dreams ("Veronica's Chandler Nightmare"), Veronica, with J.D. in tow, apologizes to Chandler. Veronica and J.D. mix hangover cures for Chandler; J.D. adds toxic drain cleaner to his mug as a joke, but the mugs get accidentally switched. Chandler drinks from the poisoned mug and dies. Veronica panics, but J.D. convinces her to forge a suicide note, which paints a more complex, misunderstood Heather. This fictionalized Chandler wins the school's sympathy and is even more worshipped in death than she was in life ("The Me Inside Of Me").

Veronica tries to get on with her normal life but is berated and mocked by Chandler's ghost. Veronica tries to rescue the Heathers from a drunk Kurt and Ram, who aggressively beg her for sex, but she gives them more alcohol until they pass out ("Blue", in the alternate song, "You're Welcome," she escapes by pushing them into a cow pasture full of manure). Heather Duke assumes Chandler's status and symbolic red scrunchie, and Ram and Kurt tell everyone they had sex with Veronica ("Blue (Reprise)" in the Off-Broadway production. "Never Shut Up Again", replacing it in the West End version). Veronica is branded a slut ("Blue (Playoff)", not included in the West End or high-school version), and when J.D. attacks the jocks to defend her, they savagely beat him.

J.D. and Veronica comfort each other and plan a vengeful prank: Veronica will lure the jocks to the cemetery with the promise of making their fictional threesome real, then J.D. and Veronica will shoot them with tranquilizer "Ich Lüge" bullets to knock them out, leaving a forged suicide note confessing they were gay lovers. When the jocks arrive, J.D. shoots Ram but Veronica misses Kurt. As she realizes Ram is dead and the bullets are real, J.D. shoots Kurt dead and proclaims his undying love to a horrified Veronica ("Our Love Is God").

Act Two[]

At Ram and Kurt's funeral, a distraught Veronica reflects that they could have outgrown their immaturity ("Prom or Hell?"). Grief-stricken, Ram's Dad chastises Kurt's Dad for remaining homophobic, until Kurt's Dad suddenly kisses Ram's Dad, revealing their own secret love affair. Confession brings catharsis and all vow to make the world a more tolerant place ("My Dead Gay Son"). Convinced the murders are for the greater good, J.D. urges Veronica to target Heather Duke next. She refuses, and as J.D. complains about doing nothing in the face of injustice, he reveals he witnessed his mother's suicide. Veronica gives him an ultimatum: give up violence and live a normal life with her, or lose her forever ("Seventeen"). J.D. agrees and they reconcile. Martha tells Veronica she suspects J.D. of murdering the jocks, believing Ram's "love note" is proof. Veronica, urged on by Chandler's ghost, confesses that she forged the note to humiliate Martha, who runs off in tears.

Guidance counselor Mrs. Fleming holds a televised therapy assembly ("Shine a Light"). She urges everyone to reveal their fears and insecurities, but only Heather McNamara admits to suicidal thoughts ("Lifeboat"), and Duke mocks her and whips the students into a frenzy. Veronica lashes out and blurts a confession - "they didn't kill themselves! I killed them!"—but everyone laughs mockingly, thinking Veronica is only desperate for attention. Shortly after, McNamara tries to kill herself by overdosing in the bathroom ("Shine a Light (Reprise)") but Veronica stops her. J.D., carrying a gun, again tries to persuade Veronica to kill Duke; realizing how unstable he is, Veronica breaks up with him (In the Off-Broadway production, there is not a song used for Veronica having enough of J.D.'s unstable nature, however, "I Say No" is a song made exclusively for the West End production that explains everything through song).

J.D. blackmails Duke into making the student body sign a petition. Martha, mourning Ram, jumps off a bridge ("Kindergarten Boyfriend") but survives. Veronica rushes to the hospital, taunted by the ghosts of Kurt, Ram, and Chandler ("Yo Girl"). She returns home, where J.D. breaks in. As she barricades herself in the closet, he reveals the petition, signed by every student, is actually a mass suicide note – his plan to blow up the pep rally will look like a mass suicide. He breaks open the closet to find Veronica dangling from a noose. Grief-stricken, he leaves to complete his plan ("Meant to Be Yours").

Veronica, having faked her suicide, races to stop J.D. ("Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)"). She confronts him in the boiler room, but in their struggle, J.D. is shot. Unable to disarm the bomb, Veronica takes it to the empty football field. J.D. convinces her to let him take the bomb instead ("I Am Damaged"). It explodes, killing him alone.

Returning to school, Veronica takes the red scrunchie from Duke and ends the era of social ridicule. Veronica invites Martha and Heather McNamara to hang out, rent a movie, and be kids before childhood is over ("Seventeen (Reprise)").

Music[]

Off-Broadway[]

Act I
  • "Beautiful" – Veronica Sawyer, Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, Heather Duke, Kurt Kelly, Ram Sweeney, Martha Dunnstock, Pauline Fleming and Students
  • "Candy Store" – H. Chandler, H. McNamara and H. Duke
  • "Fight for Me" – Veronica and Students
  • "Candy Store (Playoff)" † – H. Chandler, H. McNamara and H. Duke
  • "Freeze Your Brain" – J.D.
  • "Big Fun" – Ram, Kurt, Veronica, H. Chandler, H. McNamara, H. Duke and Students
  • "Dead Girl Walking" – Veronica and J.D.
  • "Veronica's Chandler Nightmare" † – H. Chandler and Company
  • "Me Inside of Me" – H. Chandler, Veronica, J.D., Ms. Fleming and Company
  • "Blue" – Ram, Kurt, H. Duke and H. McNamara
  • "Blue" (Reprise) † – Ram, Kurt, H. Duke and Students
  • "Our Love is God" – J.D., Veronica, Ram, Kurt and Company
Act II
  • "Prom or Hell?" † – Veronica
  • "My Dead Gay Son" – Ram's Dad, Kurt's Dad and Mourners
  • "Seventeen" – Veronica and J.D.
  • "Shine a Light" – Ms. Fleming and Students
  • "Lifeboat" – H. McNamara
  • "Shine a Light" (Reprise) – H. Duke and Students
  • "Hey Yo, Westerburg" † – H. McNamara and Students
  • "Kindergarten Boyfriend" – Martha
  • "Yo Girl" – H. Chandler, Ram and Kurt
  • "Meant to Be Yours" – J.D. and Students
  • "Dead Girl Walking" (Reprise) – Veronica, J.D., Ms. Fleming, and Students
  • "I Am Damaged" – J.D. and Veronica
  • "Seventeen" (Reprise) – Veronica, Martha, H. McNamara and Company

Wollaton[]

Act I
  • "Beautiful" – Veronica, Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, Heather Duke, Kurt, Ram, Martha, Ms. Fleming, Ensemble
  • "Candy Store" – H. Chandler, H. McNamara and H. Duke
  • "Fight for Me" – Veronica, Ensemble
  • "Candy Store (Playoff)" † – H. Chandler, H. McNamara and H. Duke
  • "Freeze Your Brain" – J.D.
  • "Big Fun" – Ram, Kurt, Veronica, H. Chandler, H. McNamara, H. Duke, Ensemble
  • "Dead Girl Walking" – Veronica and J.D.
  • "Veronica's Chandler Nightmare" † – H. Chandler, Company
  • "The Me Inside of Me" – H. Chandler, Veronica, Cops, Principal, Coach, Ms. Fleming, and Company
  • "You're Welcome" †† – Ram, Kurt, Veronica
  • "Never Shut Up Again" †† – H. Duke, Ram, Kurt and Ensemble (Replaces "You're Welcome (Reprise)" from the high school version)
  • "Our Love is God" – J.D. and Veronica
Act II
  • "Prom or Hell?" † – Veronica
  • "My Dead Gay Son" – Ram's Dad, Kurt's Dad, Company
  • "Seventeen" – Veronica and J.D.
  • "Shine a Light" – Ms. Fleming, Ensemble
  • "Lifeboat" – H. McNamara
  • "Shine a Light" (Reprise) – H. Duke, Ensemble
  • "I Say No" †† - Veronica and Ensemble
  • "Heyo, Westerburg" † – H. McNamara and Students
  • "Kindergarten Boyfriend" – Martha
  • "Yo Girl" – H. Chandler, Ram and Kurt
  • "Meant to Be Yours" – J.D. and Students
  • "Dead Girl Walking" (Reprise) – Veronica, J.D., Ms. Fleming, and Students
  • "I Am Damaged" – J.D. and Veronica
  • "Seventeen" (Reprise) – Veronica, Martha, H. McNamara and Company

† Not featured on the World Premiere Cast Recording. †† Songs added to the West End version and all future productions.

"You're Welcome" replaces "Blue," a song on the World Premiere Cast Recording. "You're Welcome" was originally written by O'Keefe and Murphy for the High School edition but was added to the official show beginning with the 2018 London production. O'Keefe and Murphy preferred "You're Welcome" as they had come to feel that "Blue" was a bit lazy, and had inadvertently trivialized the lead character's fears (given that Veronica is cornered by two drunk, entitled high school football stars who refused to hear the word "no"). While "Blue" contained no dialogue for Veronica, by contrast "You're Welcome" allows Veronica to express her fears and solve her problem, defeating her assailants decisively. As well as providing a more empowering alternative for Veronica, the new song remedies the way that "Blue" was often considered as “treating date rape as a laughing matter” and presenting sexual assault or harassment as “boyish antics”, due to the comical nature of the song.[2]

A new song for Heather Duke, "Never Shut Up Again", was also added for the London run, replacing "Blue (Reprise)". For the 2017 workshop, there was a different song to replace "Blue (Reprise)", which became "Big Fun (Reprise)", part of which is now included in "Never Shut Up Again". In the last week at The Other Palace, the authors added a new song after "Shine a Light (Reprise)" called "I Say No", in which Veronica finally dumps JD when he proposes a return to murdering, telling him "you need help I can't provide" and walking out on him. The song remained in the show for the Haymarket run and was released on February 15, 2019, as the first single on the West End cast album.

Productions[]

Development[]

Three private readings of the work in progress were held in Los Angeles in 2009, each starring Kristen Bell as Veronica. The first was in March at the Beverly Hills offices of Endeavor Agency (starring Christian Campbell as J.D.); the second in June at the Hudson Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard (starring Scott Porter as J.D.); and the third in December at the Coast Theatre in West Hollywood, starring James Snyder as J.D. In each reading, Jenna Leigh Green, Corri English, and Christine Lakin played Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara and Heather Duke respectively.

On September 13–14, 2010, Heathers 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.

Los Angeles[]

The show played at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles 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. McLemore was the only Heather to remain with the cast when the show transferred to Off-Broadway, but after Alice Lee left the production, Kristolyn Lloyd reprised her role as Heather Duke.

Off-Broadway[]

In 2013, it was announced that Heathers: The Musical would be brought to Off-Broadway, previews beginning in March at New World Stages, directed by Andy Fickman. Coincidentally, New World is also the name of the original film's distributor. In February 2014, the cast was announced, including Barrett Wilbert Weed, Ryan McCartan, and Elle McLemore reprising their roles as Veronica, J.D., and Heather McNamara, respectively, with new additions to the cast being Jessica Keenan Wynn as Heather Chandler, Alice Lee as Heather Duke and Tony Award winner Anthony Crivello as Bill Sweeney/'Big Bud' Dean.[7] 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.[8] It was released a week early on June 10, 2014.

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

London[]

Heatherswestendalbum

A workshop of the musical opened at The Other Palace, London which held 5 presentations in the Studio from 30 May to June 3, 2017. The workshop featured Charlotte Wakefield as Veronica Sawyer.

Following the workshop, the musical had its official London premiere in the Theatre at The Other Palace, London from June 9 to August 4, 2018, starring Carrie Hope Fletcher as Veronica Sawyer, Jamie Muscato as J.D., Dominic Andersen as Ram Sweeney, Edward Baruwa as Ram's Dad, and Jon Boydon as Kurt's Dad.[12] The production is produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills, directed again by Andy Fickman and with choreographer/associate director Gary Lloyd.[13] For the London production "Blue" has been changed to the new song "You're Welcome" and Heather Duke has received her own song "Never Shut Up Again" as well as a few script changes.

Heathers transferred to the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, running from September 3, 2018 to November 24, 2018. A new song for Veronica, "I Say No," as well as a few script changes to Act 2 were added for the transfer.

A West End cast recording was released on Ghostlight Records on March 1. The album premiered at No. 1 on the iTunes UK Soundtracks Charts and at #2 on the iTunes UK Album charts. The album premiered at No. 24 on the Official Albums Chart.

On March 3, 2019, Heathers The Musical won the Best New Musical award at London's Whatsonstage.com Awards. Carrie Hope Fletcher also won for Best Actress In A Musical.

Cast[]

Character Joe's Pub
 

(2010)

Los Angeles
 

(2013)

Original Off-Broadway
 

(2014)

Australia
 

(2015-16)

Original Off-West End
 

(2018)

Original West End
 

(2018)

Veronica Sawyer Annaleigh Ashford Barrett Wilbert Weed Jaz Flowers Carrie Hope Fletcher
Jason "J.D." Dean Jeremy Jordan Ryan McCartan Stephen Madsen Jamie Muscato
Heather Chandler Jenna Leigh Green Sarah Halford Jessica Keenan Wynn Lucy Maunder Jessica Tamarii Peter
Heather McNamara Corri English Elle McLemore Erin Clare Olivia Panek
Heather Duke Christine Lakin Kristolyn Lloyd Alice Lee Libby Asciak Stephany Vidal Omoridon
Martha Dunnstock Julie Garnye Katie Ladner Lauren McKenna Giselle Oakwood
Ram Sweeney PJ Griffith Jon Eidson Jakob Ambrose Mandingo North
Kurt Kelly James Snyder Evan Todd Vincent Hooper Aiden Koya Toopou
Bill Sweeney / Big Bud Dean / Coach Ripper Eric Leviton Rex Smith Anthony Crivello N/A Edward Baruwa Nathan Amzi
Paul Kelly / Mr. Sawyer / Principal Gowan Zachary Ford Daniel Cooney N/A Jon Boydon
Mrs. Sawyer / Pauline Fleming Jill Abramovitz Rena Strober Michelle Duffy Lauren McKenna Rebecca Lock
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