BWW Review: HEATHERS at North Shore Music Theatre

BWW Review: HEATHERS at North Shore Music Theatre Be prepared to be uncomfortably dazzled and delectably delighted by North Shore Music Theatre's season of Heathers.

While labeled a black comedy, Heathers is a razor-sharp satire of teenage High School dilemma delivered through a deliciously uncomfortable glorious lens.

Director Alexandra McKellar has delivered a full-to-overflowing package of sensory challenges that will take you on an emotional journey of delight, possibly hurt your brain and leave you squirmingly engrossed. I loved it.

This show may be about teenagers but it is for those looking back to the past and making connections. In the words of Intern Choreographer Natasha van Etten, "It's not 'High School Musical' at all."

Based on the 1989 cult film starring the then little known Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, the show is multi-layered and deals with issues of school bullying, teen sexuality, school shootings, bomb threats and suicide epidemics. It is to the 80's what Grease is to the 50's but the social commentary aspect makes one more than a little uncomfortable and perhaps crystalizes the reality of today's world.

The hugely talented cast do not miss a beat. They are slick; each character is superbly delivered, individual in style and charisma yet meld perfectly to deliver this cleverly-crafted satire. The cast is young but has insight and professionalism beyond their years. They certainly step out their of comfort zones for their craft, taking the audience out of there's too. It works. These young stars leave me feeling very excited about the future of NZ Theatre.

Jaymee Brearley as Veronica is engaging as she delivers the perfectly timed comedic irony of her dialogue and the audience delight in her voice. The three Heathers played by Geena Hutton, Francesca Ramdhanie and Xanthe Pavlovich are all superb, capturing the essence of the 'self-serving' popular girls that we all disliked but secretly wanted to be. Angela Mason in the role of Martha Dumptruck plays her to perfection and taking our hearts in her rendition of 'Kindergarten Boyfriend'. Aidan Elliot (JD) Keiran Craft (Ram Sweeny), Logan McAlister (Kurt Kelly) are all required to be aggressively comedic and met the challenge admirably. The cameo characters Trafford Anderson, Patrick Cunneen, Caleb Jamieson, Zoe Dornbusch, Kate Sampson and Aimee Steedman are all clever in their portrayal. Matthew Carr, Zaverr Doctor and Thomas Calver slip in and out of their dual roles with aplomb.BWW Review: HEATHERS at North Shore Music Theatre

The Choreography (Emma Carr) is brilliantly edgy and the relationship between song and dance is tight. There is so much to look at. Costuming is on point and the dialogue is delicious. You need to have your wits about you to absorb the cleverly delivered one-liners in both the dialogue and fabulous music. The satire is embedded in dialogue and song alike.

The musicians are in full view and they're cool. Like, really cool. The Saxophonist get's to be the frontline centre for a cameo and super clever Musical Director Griffin Jenkins picks up a variety of instruments throughout the show.

The intimate relationship of audience and cast quickly develops within the space and one cannot help but become fully immersed.

The technical and set team cleverly achieve their intention of transporting the audience from a Musical Theatre Clubrooms into Westerberg High School thanks to smart technologies and a cleverly simplistic and very effective set. Bravo to Tech Director Matt Johnson and his team, Stage Manager Sarah Radford and Set Director Mark Kent.

I'm never impressed by sexualisation and inappropriate language unless there is a very clear purpose. In this show, there is a very clear purpose and although I felt mildly uncomfortable at times, it was good for me, enhancing the experience for a great purpose. This not a show for kids.

Favourite quote of the moment from the show, it changes regularly:
'What is it I smell in the air? Is it tolerance, inclusion and love?


North Shore Music Theatre Clubrooms
20th-28th April
5 Recreation Drive, Birkenhead
Warning: Heathers contains themes of sexual assault, suicide and strong language

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From This Author Monica Moore

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