'Heathers' musical opens in New York following L.A. run

"Heathers" has been resurrected -- shoulder pads, big bangs et al. -- as a cheeky stage musical. As Veronica Sawyer, the Winona Ryder character, might ask, what's the damage?

The musical production had a brief run in Los Angeles at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in September and is now running in New York at the off-Broadway New World Stages. The show, written by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, opened on Monday 25, years after the 1989 movie debuted in theaters.

The production is directed by Andy Fickman, who has staged such small-scale stage favorites as "Reefer Madness!" and "Jewtopia."

In the movie, Ryder played a high school student who teams up with a brooding loner (Christian Slater) to exact revenge on a clique of popular girls. The musical version stars Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica Sawyer and Ryan McCartan as the trenchcoat-wearing J.D.

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As far as New York critics go, the damage seems to vary depending on whom you ask.

The New York Times' Ben Brantley wrote that the first half of the musical is "is skillfully sloppy fun." But as with the original movie, the latter half "almost seems to be apologizing for any untoward pleasure it may have afforded us before, as it ricochets between the antic and the conciliatory." 

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter concluded that "this version has its silly charms," though a "willingness to go dark rather than keep winking at the audience would have been welcome."

New York magazine's Jess Green described the show as a "misbegotten creature" that borders on the amateur. "Rarely have I seen a professional show so poorly directed; that 'Heathers' is a high-school musical does not excuse a high-school staging." 

Marilyn Stasio of Variety described the show as "witty" and that it plays to a multi-generational audience. But the music is "brassy and blah and sounds nothing like the music that made the 80s the 80s."   


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