High-octane black comedy rock musical Heathers hits Brighton

The company were a month away from starting rehearsals when the pandemic struck in March last year.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 6:02 am
The cast of Heathers The Musical UK Tour 2021 - Photos by Pamela Raith
The cast of Heathers The Musical UK Tour 2021 - Photos by Pamela Raith

But finally they were able to get on the road this August – and are delighted to be bringing Heathers the Musical to Theatre Royal Brighton from October 26-30.

Produced by Bill Kenwright and Paul Taylor-Mills, it’s a high-octane black comedy rock musical, based on one of great cult teen films of all time which starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.

Westerberg High’s Veronica Sawyer is just another nobody dreaming of a better day. But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity may finally come true. Mysterious teen rebel JD teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it is murder being a somebody…

“It is such a great show,” says Georgina Hagen (Ms Fleming/Veronica’s mom): “It tackles some very tricky subjects. It is about suicide. There is a lot about isolation especially as a teenager at high school. It goes through a real journey and at the end it is all about acceptance and love and growth, a real journey from start to finish. Everybody who has been to high school – and that is everyone – will be able to relate one way or another to somebody’s storyline.

“There is bullying and school violence, things that everyone can relate to, and in the end it is about how we can move forward from there.

“We were meant to be originally starting in April 2020, and we just kept getting pushed back. We finally opened in Leeds on August 5. But actually I was in another show when lockdown hit. I was doing The Sound Of Music, and it was really strange to leave the stage and not go back. We realised something was brewing of course but we didn’t know how long it was going to be brewing for or how long we would all be shut for. It was devastating.

“For the first few months I was very upset and felt very down, but rather than mope around I got an administrative assistant job in a primary school… and there you had to deal with all sorts of other factors, working in a school during a pandemic. You never knew what was happening from one day to the next, but it was an incredible experience and I am just incredibly grateful to them for taking a punt on me and giving me that opportunity. It is now another string to my bow for when I am in between jobs workwise. It is something that I can always go back to if I need to. It was great to work with the children. They were absolutely amazing in the way that they all coped. Some of the older ones kind of understood what was happening, but the younger ones didn’t understand at all, but they all did so well.

“I started there in September 2020 and finished in July 2021. I did the whole school year.”

And then it was straight into rehearsals for Heathers the Musical.

The film Heathers came out in 1988

“It is a brilliant film, but I first came across the musical – in 2014, I believe, when it was off-Broadway. I came across the soundtrack and I thought it was the best thing I had ever heard. Being a huge Larry O’Keefe fan, I just thought it was sensational, unlike anything I had ever heard before. At the time I was coming across it I was in another of Larry’s shows and it was my favourite job I had ever done. I think Larry writes so incredibly well for people’s voices. I listened to the soundtrack and realised it was an 80s film and watched it and realised how brilliant it was. It was just amazing.”

And it’s great to be back on the road: “At first I think we were all a bit tentative, but now I think it is just like we have never been away. The first week back was so emotional – happy emotional because we were doing it, sad emotional because of all the time we had lost. We were also so grateful to the director and to the producers that we had the opportunity to be doing it.”