It’s been months at this point since my husband and I saw Heathers: The Musical. If you have no idea what Heathers is, like my husband, you’re missing out. It’s your quintessential 80’s, mean girl, high school movie and is amazing. The fact that someone turned it into a musical is fucking genius. As I explained to my husband, I feel that without Heathers there wouldn’t be a Clueless or Mean Girls. It’s the original. It’s a classic. Naturally I was excited when I received the email stating that Heathers: The Musical was opening at a local theatre. I immediately bought tickets.
This is a semi-review of the musical. I really want to focus on comparing and contrasting the movie and the musical. Even then there are only a few things that I want to cover that really stuck out to me. Plus, it’s my blog so I write whatever the fuck I want.
Oh, there will probably be spoilers.
Did you Have a Brain Tumor for Breakfast?
Heathers, the movie, stars a young Christian Slater and pre-meltdown Winona Ryder. Need more to convince you to watch it? How about that this dark comedy has some of the best lines from a movie? Some of my favorites:
- “What’s your damage, Heather?”
- “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”
- “My teen angst bullshit now has a body count.”
- “Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.”
One other thing that makes this movie so fucking 80’s is the fact that it could never be made today. Not without changing the entire script which would ruin the movie. Why? JD brings a gun to school and then shoots it in the cafeteria. Plus, the entire movie revolves around Veronica and JD killing students/bullies and making it look like a suicide. With all the gun violence, school shootings, and cyber bullying going on today, this movie would never have been made. Thank goodness it was made in the 80’s so we can enjoy it’s beautiful satire today.
Heathers: The Musical, replicates the 80’s vibe but changes up a few things because it’s a musical and can’t be exactly the movie.The musical takes the premise of the movie, the ghastly 80’s fashion, and adds music. Catchy, hilarious music that’ll get stuck in your head and you won’t mind a damn bit. In fact, I’ve watched shitty bootleg versions of the musical online just so I could hear more of it. I’m not condoning bootlegs, btw, but, ya know, if it’s not playing in your city … write your local theatre?
Our Love is God, Let’s Go Get a Slushie
Like any adaptation, there will be changes. There were a few changes that really stuck out to me. Get ready for some classic, down home, nitpicking.
- The musical gives a brief introduction as to how Veronica meets the Heathers. It includes a scene from the movie but alters it. The movie, however, dumps us into a world where Veronica has been a part of the Heathers for a while. I have to admit that the quick origin story is nice and fleshes out Veronica’s character more.
- JD’s gun doesn’t have anything to do with his introduction in the musical. Maybe it was a plot thing but I’d bet it’s a 2000’s thing that made this change. Guns at school? Are you kidding me? Hell fucking no. They ended up doing a hilarious slow motion fight in place of the gun, so I can’t be totally annoyed. The gun does show up later in the musical in case you’re wondering.
- The movie has a fictional band, Big Fun, with a popular song called “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” but instead of it being somewhat peripheral in the musical they turned it into a musical number. Sorta. The reference is a song called “Big Fun” that is performed during a party. Definitely not a bad thing since the song is catchy as hell and I really liked how they included something small from the movie.
- In the movie, Veronica manages to stop the bomb from going off with 4 seconds to spare. She then walks away leaving it and unconscious JD in the boiler room. He wakes up and, instead of detonating it, straps it to himself, resets the timer, and blows himself up in front of the school. The musical spins this scene a little differently and, in my opinion, makes it better. Veronica takes the bomb to the football field intending to sacrifice herself but JD takes it from her with the same result as the movie.
Why Are You Pulling My Dick?
There’s one change that I haven’t mentioned and it’s a big one. After the opening croquet scene in the movie Veronica is walking down the school hallway. The voice over says:
Dear Diary, Heather told me she teaches people real life. She said, “Real life sucks losers dry. If you want to fuck with the eagles you have to learn how to fly.” I said, “So you teach people how to spread their wings and fly?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “You’re beautiful.”
The way she says “you’re beautiful” is meant to be sarcastic, you know, like calling a clumsy person graceful. Heather is a beautiful person on the outside but inside she’s deluded and rotten. It sets Veronica’s tone and that of the movie.
When the opening number of the musical played on the idea of being beautiful I was happy and then shocked once the words set in. One phrase sung by Veronica goes:
But I know, I know/Life can be beautiful/I pray, I pray/For a better way/We were kind before/We can be kind once more/We can be beautiful
That’s not sarcastic in the least. It’s hopeful and innocent, and completely ignores the satirical aspect of Heathers. Sure, you can argue that this naive hopefulness is the tone of the musical, but Heathers isn’t about hope. It’s not whimsical, bright, and happy. It’s called a dark comedy for a reason.
Sure, “you’re beautiful” might be a throw away line from the movie. Sure, some people never noticed it. Sure, I’m probably splitting hairs with this one. However, that entire diary exchange sets up who Heather was and that one line told me that Veronica was going to be a sarcastic girl. In my opinion, it’s important for the movie set up and, if you couldn’t tell, I’m not a fan of this tonal change in the musical.
Color Me Impressed
Overall I really enjoyed Heathers: The Musical. I think it beautifully transformed the movie and any fan of the movie will enjoy it as well. I especially loved the nods to the movie that were included. The changes made weren’t majorly distracting (except for the one) and it’s understood that it can’t be a musical replication of the movie. Honestly, what would be the point?
If you have the chance to see the musical, do it! It’s one of those minimal sets that allows your imagination to fill in the gaps. Did I mention the music is fantastic? It is.
Heathers: The Musical has some changes from the movie but it’s a great show with great music. I highly recommend anyone seeing it.