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Interview: Andy Fickman Talks HEATHERS THE MUSICAL's Journey to Roku

Interview: Andy Fickman Talks HEATHERS THE MUSICAL's Journey to Roku

Heathers the Musical is now streaming on The Roku Channel.

Eight years after its original Off-Broadway run, Heathers: the Musical has made its way to The Roku Channel.

The new live capture of the cult musical was filmed at The Other Palace in the U.K., where it had originally opened in 2018. Originally produced by Bill Kenwright & Paul Taylor Mills, it grew on its initial cult following and became a box office record-breaker, ultimately transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a soldasout limited run later that year.

Still breaking records at The Other Palace in the U.K., the new film and musical were directed by Andy Fickman, who had also directed Heathers: the Musical's initial Off-Broadway and Los Angeles runs.

BroadwayWorld caught up with Fickman to discuss the musical's journey, how it has grown since its Off-Broadway run, the musical's cult following, and where the show might be headed next.

I saw Heathers: the Musical Off-Broadway eight years ago and it's great to see it in a new life with this film.

What I really love is the opportunity that people that saw it Off-Broadway or saw it in LA never have gotten to see this version of Heathers that we have been doing in the UK. And now, thanks to Roku, people are gonna get a chance to see this stage capture and I'm excited for people to be like, "That's a new song. That's a new song. That's different staging. They have a set." All kinds of fun things.

Going back to that Off-Broadway run and the LA run, while you were doing those did you think that the show would develop this big cult following?

It was such a happy surprise because by the time we closed, our album New York album took on a life of its own. And all of a sudden we were like, "People loved the album." And then the amateur rights were going, but it wasn't until we got the call around 2017 from London and Paul Taylor Mills, who at the time was running Andrew Lloyd Weber's, The Other Palace said, "I want you guys to come out and do a reading here." We were like, "Who in London knows Heathers? Who knows Sherwood, Ohio? Who knows 80s America?" Like, it felt very like a swing and a miss. We were sold out before we ever opened and that was because the album had been such a big hit in the UK.

We call our fans "Corn Nuts" and they elevated it to cult status very quickly and had never let go and new fans, they seemed to be getting younger and younger, but it's about 13 seems to be the entry point in. So we certainly never expected it.

I remember Kevin [Murphy], Larry [O'Keefe] and I were walking around, Lloyd Webber's home and we were looking at each other at one point being like, "What are we doing here? Like, how is this a thing that we're here?" Bill Kenwright, who's our current lead producer, has just fallen in love with the show and made sure audiences knew where to find us.

Interview: Andy Fickman Talks HEATHERS THE MUSICAL's Journey to Roku
Heathers the Musical Off-Broadway in 2014

So you would say that your success in the UK is a result of that cast recording and the Off-Broadway following?

Yeah, I think what we didn't realize was when we got there, so many of the actors were using Heathers songs for auditions and so there was a buzz in London about this musical, and there was stuff they could see online and they were looking and trying to grab bits and pieces but just as we were leaving New York, we were starting to see the stage door, you know, a hundred, 150 teenagers dressed in costumes, starting to come out. We just didn't know if you could replicate it and we certainly had no idea that we would not only replicate it, but we'd replicate it so many times over in the UK.

So with this UK production, what was the decision like to film it and how did the Roku movie come about?

We've been very excited about the progress that we had made and our underlying rights to the film, because it all starts with Dan Waters movie and Michael Lehmann directed it, Denise de Novi produced it and Village Road Show now owned the underlying rights. Our friends at Village Road Show came to us and started talking about a stage capture and there was a window of opportunity to blend my current cast and my tour cast and add a few new people and we jumped at the chance because nobody in the United States, unless they've come to the UK, none of our American audiences had seen these changes and we have new songs and new everything.

Roku stepped up right away and were just huge fans of everything and it was just a perfect partnership. Everybody loved the material to start with and that helps and we're excited for the people to see it.

What was the filming process like for the live capture? It must have been interesting to combine theatrical and film elements. How was it to film?

It's weird for me because I always tell people in my day job, I make movies and television. So I'm so used to filming for cinema that when I go to the theater, I'm like, "Oh, great. I don't have any cameras where I don't have anything." So in some ways it was a perfect way to blend all of the discipline that I have. I approached it like, "Alright, how would I accomplish this if I was filming it as a movie?" Well, that's what I do every day.

So setting the cameras and bringing in a great production team really made it fun. My goal was to give the viewer the best seat in the house. A stage capture is that weird blend because you're not a full on film and you're not full on just, an old video recording of a front shot of the stage here. You could get the opportunity to be dynamic.

Having directed it since LA, I know the show well so it made it easy sometimes, you know, you probably have directed it in your head over the years, thinking if I ever had a camera, I'd put the camera right there. So this made it a perfect opportunity.

You've mentioned a little bit that there's some new staging, some new songs, some new moments in the show. What new parts of the show are you most excited for U.S. audiences to see that they probably haven't seen yet?

Veronica finally has an 11 o'clock number. "I Say No," that song gives me goosebumps, no matter how many times I see it. Duke finally has a great number, "Never Shut Up." The opportunity to give that character a real stage vocal moment is so fabulous. We said goodbye to Kurt and Ram's song, "Blue," that had been a staple in the states and added a new song, "You're Welcome," which, for us, was better storytelling. I feel like a lot of those moments I'm excited for audiences to experience because I think it really elevates the story to a different level.

Why do you think the show's die-hard fanbase continue to love this show? Why do you think it resonates with them?

I think it's universal. People of all ages deal with crushes, love, heartache, heartbreak, school, the highs of school, and sadly, the lows of school, bullying, cliques. So as much as Heathers is 1980s, America, it still exists today. I think what we find from our audience is that they find themselves on that stage. There's a sense of redemption. There's a sense of fighting back. A sense of the underdog. So I feel like that happens.

We used to be concerned that, would people connect with it? Given that it's similar in comparison to modern society and computers and phones and what we found is that most of our fans have said, "On stage, we see it. You're dealing with someone wrote a bad mean note to Martha and that's the impetus of her going. We deal with it every day online. Somebody tweets something, a rumors starts and is now forever on the internet." I think that's what makes it relatable.

When I grew up, my all time favorite thing to be a part of was Rocky Horror Picture Show. So that to me wasn't just a musical, it was an event. It was part of my life. It was my every Saturday night going to the theater for the midnight show. I think that's what has happened with a lot of our Corn Nuts, a lot of our fans have found they can get in costume and they can sing the songs and they know and they're kind of there. We always will say, if certain lines don't get a big response, we think, "Oh, there's not a lot of Corn Nuts in the audience." But usually they show up.

I like that you mentioned Rocky Horror Picture Show because I feel like Heathers is very much follow up in the same type of community and following that Rocky Horror has.

Yeah. So many of our Corn Nuts are sort of 13 on up and when we get it to interact with them on social media, we try to talk to them, we've come friends. So many of them aren't aware of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I'm like, "This is what you have to do if you. If you can't find it playing in a midnight show, you and your friends just watch it and then watch it again and just listen to that music and get and enraptured in what that storytelling was." That did it for me. Without Rocky Horror, I would not be sitting here talking to you. I hope that Heathers has the same impact on our fans.

Where do you hope the show goes next? Would you like to see another New York run?

Well, I think anywhere we haven't been is a good place to go. I don't know any director who doesn't always have an eye thinking like, "Ooh, what would we do if we took this show back to New York?" From what we've learned, when we went New York our first time, we had opened in LA, we were running for a short period of time when the wonderful people at New World Stages came to us at the end of our run and said, "We'd love you to come to New York in the next few months." So we literally transferred our small theater production and took a good majority of our cast, went to New York, and opened. So our sets, our costumes, we were so lucky with the team we had, but we didn't have a long period of time or the warchest to sort of build it the way we built it in the UK. So, yeah, you always want a second chance at bat.

Watch the trailer for Heathers the Musical on The Roku Channel here:

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