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Heathers The Musical - Birmingham Review

Writer: Amelia Bascombe

Following successful runs at The Other Palace and The Theatre Royal Haymarket, Heathers now embarks on its second UK and Ireland tour. Based on the cult classic of 1988, the show’s central characters experience the highs and lows falling in love and faking suicides. Who knew forging handwriting could end in such a mess?

Having seen the show in both venues in London, it was interesting to see how the tour would compare. The production itself holds its own on a larger stage compared with The Other Palace and this allows for the show to reach its true potential. The staging and choreography excel, with the ensemble having more space to perform songs like ‘Big Fun’ and ‘Never Shut Up Again’ to the fullest extent.

The cast of Heathers The Musical. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.

Jenna Innes delivers a wonderful take on the lead Veronica and drives her in a new direction of empathy and compassion. We are rooting for her the whole show, even when she makes unspeakable decisions, because her motivations are obvious - she craves love. Her characterisation matches that of Christina Bennington from the 2021 Haymarket run, and one I don’t think we have seen since. Jenna’s vocals are sweet yet powerful, and her Veronica is truly hell on wheels.

JD veteran Jacob Fowler is back where he belongs and gives a stellar performance as the loveable villain. It’s hard to not feel sorry for him as he conveys the character with such conviction and delivers one of the more comedic JD’s that we’ve had over the years. This, along with his powerhouse vocals(evident best in ‘Meant to be Yours’), and you have yourself one of the best Jason Dean performances the UK has ever offered.

The three Heathers have been portrayed by a whole host of west end legends throughout the years, and so following in those footsteps must be daunting. It must be said that the microphones seemed to be quiet for all 3, and at times it was hard to hear them. 

Verity Thompson brings back the true mythic bitch Heather Chandler than we all love to hate and redefines her as a character. Her comedic timing provides a magnitude of laughs, and she can switch from humour to evil exceptionally well. Understudy Eliza Bowden shines as Heather McNamara, which is a role that can often be overlooked. While I yearn for ‘Lifeboat’ to be longer every time I hear it, Eliza capitalises on what stage time she does have, and uses it immensely. 1st cover Summer Priest as Heather Duke embodies the real narcissist of the character and plays her rise in villainy incredibly well. With more time to be familiar and comfortable with the role, I’m sure her confidence will grow, and she will flourish in this cover; after all, you’re with the Heathers now, it’s exciting!

Katie Paine and the Heathers company. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.

Kingsley Morton provides a light relief in an environment clouded by fear and insecurity. Her take on Martha is sweet and her powerful delivery of Kindergarten Boyfriend is a real stand out. It always interesting to hear audience members react when they realise it’s a suicide note, and Kingsley portrays the character with such sympathy that you can’t help but tear up.

The score written by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe still hits as hard as it did when it premiered in the UK 5 years ago. ‘Dead Gay Son’ remains a standout number and was performed brilliantly by Jay Bruce and Conor McFarlene. Other musical highlights include ‘Beautiful’, ‘Kindergarten Boyfriend’ and ‘Shine a Light’. Both Murphy and O’Keefe take responsibility for the book and lyrics which continue to get laughs from the audience and give an honest depiction of real teenage issues. While the show explores dark themes of suicide, date rape and bullying in a comedic way, just the nature of these topics being spoken about while they are still relevant in our own society is commendable.

The show runs until October of this year, stopping off at some big-name theatres in Glasgow, Manchester, and Guildford to name a few. Catch it before it ends, and don’t forget the corn nuts!


Heathers The Musical plays at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 20th May 2023. Tickets are available here. The UK tour continues with dates booking through until October 2023. Visit for full details.

Jenna Innes as Veronica Sawyer and Jacob Fowler as J.D. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography.

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