BWW CD Reviews: Yellow Sound Label's HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL (World Premiere Cast Recording) Has Some Damage
Daniel Waters' quirky and deliciously dark 1989 film Heathers is a beloved cult classic known for catchy one-liners and its wonderfully subversive humor. Naturally, Heathers: The Musical garnered a lot of immediate interest because of the film's reputation. However, once the World Premiere Cast Album was released, we all got a peek inside the peculiar musical. Sadly, the glimpses offered on the disc are largely disappointing and entirely underwhelming.
As a fan of the film, I wanted so much to love Heathers: The Musical, but the lyrics penned by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe get in the way. Daniel Waters' writing for the film was tongue-in-cheek and clever. His film shines with a devilish wit that ultimately captivates. Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe take the edges off of Heathers, replacing the intelligence present in the film with a base giddiness that fails to elicit anything other than groans and eye rolls. Instead of fiendish sass we get glazed over lyrics like, "Welcome to my candy store!/Time for you to prove you're/Not a loser anymore.../Then step into my candy store!" Additionally, the show features a dissatisfying sophomoric song dedicated to blue balls that successfully sinks below the lowest common denominator of contemporary humor.
Conversely, Kevin Murphy and Laurence O'Keefe's score for the musical is filled with the glitzy bubble-gum pop synthesizers of the late 80s. Their aural soundscape emulates the bravado of the era. The brightly colored melodies have a way of weaseling under your skin, getting your toes to tap along to the songs. The upbeat tempos and candy-coated cheer present in the score is infectious, but these sprightly compositions simply cannot overcome the disappointing lyrics.
Also overshadowed by the lyrics are the vocal talents of the entire cast. In group numbers, they harmonize, giving the ears enjoyable and rich chords. In solos, vocal instruments are allowed to soar in all the ways we've come to expect from musical cast recordings. Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica Sawyer, Jessica Keenan Wynn as Heather Chandler, Elle McLemore as Heather McNamara, and Alice Lee as Heather Duke all sing with pizzazz and vivacity. On the disc it sounds like the cast truly loves every moment of the score and like they are having fun with the project.