Heathers The Musical Leeds Grand Theatre review: A deliciously dark revival of a cult classic – Samantha Gildea

Heathers the Musical is a RIOT.

We all know and love the cult 1989 film, and its musical spin-off has the same black heart with some added lyrical genius – and genuinely hilarious, shocking moments that take you by surprise.

Despite its 80s setting, the show is fresh and punchy and razor-sharp, and delightfully foul-mouthed.

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The punk rock score has some genuine bangers – Candy Store, Dead Girl Walking and I Say No standing out in particular – with huge, belting notes that show how talented this touring cast really is.

Rebecca Wickes is incredible as tortured teen Veronica Sawyer, with a stunning voice that genuinely made my jaw drop (behind my mask) at times. But it’s not just her pipes that shine – she’s a brilliant comic actor, too. Her expressions were almost cartoon-like, in the best possible way. Her character’s clumsy, self-deprecating wit had the audience on her side from the off.

Maddison Firth flung herself into the brilliantly bitchy role of Heather Chandler, queen of the Heathers. She won some of the biggest laughs of the night, had some of the best lines and was utterly mesmerising on stage.

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Merryl Ansah and Lizzy Parker, as Heather Duke and Heather McNamara, completed the unholy trinity and shone alongside Firth in Candy Store, which I guarantee you’ll be humming for weeks after seeing this show. The three had brilliant chemistry and sass that stole the spotlight as soon as they strutted onto the stage.

Simon Gordon, as JD, had the smooth swagger needed for his charming, yet disturbed character and sounded great alongside Wickes’ Veronica, especially in bittersweet ballad Seventeen.

And Liam Doyle and Rory Phelan were simply perfect as airhead jocks Kurt and Ram – an unstoppable double act.

And in a softer moment, Kindergarten Boyfriend was a genuinely lovely step back from the chaos, and a moment in which Mhairi Angus as Martha Dunstock stole the hearts of everyone in the audience.

It does have its weaker points – Freeze Your Brain felt like a melancholy tribute to Dancing Through Life from Wicked, and Our Love Is God was… different.

And the references to mental health, suicide, bulimia and homosexuality will catch you off guard. It’s not offensive, but it sometimes feels sloppily handled.

But then you’ve got the trippy joy of pride-packed My Dead Gay Son and the exceptionally clever The Me Inside of Me, in which Firth (Heather Chandler) stole the show completely.

Heathers the Musical is a camp, hilarious tribute to the beloved film, and the UK tour cast brought the house down at Leeds Grand Theatre on Monday night.

This first UK tour was of course, like everything, delayed by Covid-19 – but my god, is it worth the wait.

A final note to say the staff at Leeds Grand Theatre have done a fantastic job at bringing theatre back into our lives in a safe way – I couldn’t fault the measures in place last night and was pleased to see most of the audience abiding by the theatre’s request for facemasks.

It’s so good to be back.

Heathers The Musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre until August 14.

Tickets cost £29-£48. To book, visit leedsheritagetheatres.com or call 0113 243 0808.

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