Review: Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s Heathers

IMG_4014Let me start with a disclosure: I went in to this one fully and totally already obsessed with Heathers.

Two years ago, almost to the day, Heathers opened Off-Broadway. It ran for about four months and never transferred to the big time, but the cult classic movie was now a cult classic musical. It got a cast album (which doesn’t necessarily happen all the time for an Off-Broadway show) and now, it’s being performed regionally across North America.

After I had listened to the album a bajillion times, I tried watching the Heathers movie, and I fell asleep part of the way through. I don’t even remember where, it wasn’t the end. All I could focus on was how nobody looked like they were high school age and that made it not relatable.

But Heathers the musical? I’m all about that.

Let me start with that the Tom Hendry Warehouse is a beautiful theatre. It’s well-kept and under utilized. All of the seats ascend with each new row, so in my third-row centre seat, I was eye-to-eye with the performers. And I loved it.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve listened to the cast album dozens of times. I know where every breath goes. Going in, I was worried that whoever was playing Veronica wouldn’t be able to live up to Barrett Wilbert Weed’s notorious high belting. I was not disappointed. Julie Lumsden was incredible as the geek-goes-chic protagonist. I realized halfway through the first act that although the show is called Heathers, Veronica is in almost every single scene. If she were a weaker performer, the show would’ve fallen on its face. But she wasn’t. And it didn’t.

One of the things that bothers me about the Heathers movie is that Christian Slater is so creepy that I have a hard time believing anybody would ever want to approach him, let alone date him. But Matthew Fletcher was the perfect combination of cute and charming as JD, who only reveals what he’s capable of after Veronica has fallen for him. And them pipes. “Freeze Your Brain,” JD’s ode to Slurpees, is one of my favourite songs in the show, and not only was it delivered perfectly, but Fletcher showcased all of JD’s intentions and emotions within the number.

Despite her character being dead for most of the show, Brittany Hunter made an incredible Heather Chandler, serving as the devil on Veronica’s shoulder. She was able to perform the exact formula of beauty queen, comic relief, and “mythic bitch” that the role needs.

Like I said, Veronica is in almost every scene of the show. The only one she isn’t in is the one where she doesn’t need to be: Jillian Willems’s “Kindergarten Boyfriend” was more than enough to stand alone. Martha Dunnstock spends most of the show being the butt of the joke, but she gets her own time to shine here.

The simple set did the job, Kayla Gordon’s directing was superb, and the four-piece band played the score without missing a beat. The only thing I’m choked about is that I missed WST’s production of Spring Awakening.

Heathers runs until Sunday, April 10 at the Tom Hendry Warehouse. You can and should get tickets here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s