Heathers the Musical given practically perfect performance
A modern musical with vintage vibes
The Equinox Theatre Company is currently performing Heathers the Musical at the Bug Theatre, and it is brilliant. The cast and crew make due with the small but intimate venue fantastically, utilizing every inch of the stage. From wall to wall, the entire theater is filled with a contagiously good energy. The show itself is already a favorite among theater nerds, and the Equinox Theatre Company proved itself up to the challenge of performing such a show.
Heathers follows a frumpy high schooler named Veronica who gets in good with the girls who run the school, the Heathers, while at the same time falls in love with the mysterious new JD. Veronica and JD’s strange relationship soon leads to the murder-framed-as-suicide of many of the school’s socialites.
Katie Burdette stars as Veronica (originally played by Winona Ryder in the film off which the musical is based). Burdette gives a strong performance, though sometimes wavering in places vocally, but her comedic timing and high belts make her a compelling lead. Kade Fritzler stars opposite Burdette as the alluring and volatile JD. He gives a good performance as well, hitting his stride in Act Two. Fritzler blew everyone away with his vocal power in the duet “Seventeen.”
Other stand-out performances include Caitlin Burd as Heather Chandler, Dominique Mickelson as Heather MacNamara, Hannah Quinn as Martha, and Miranda Byers as Mrs. Fleming.
Burd is believably bitchy and captivates the audience with her battiness as she delivers line after iconic absurd line. On the other end of the Heather spectrum, Mickelson is convincing as Heather M, fooling the audience with her ditzy-ness until her ballad “Lifeboat” wins the crowd to her side. It is Quinn, however, who delivers the stand-out performance. It is hard not to feel hearts shattering as the bullied Martha sings “Kindergarten Boyfriend,” a devastating song about the pain of growing up.
Michael O’Shea and Jack Mariotti also turn heads as the fathers of football players Ram and Kurt. The duo delivers one of the most memorable songs in the show, “My Dead Gay Son.” They’re so convincing as two men rediscovering their love for one another that after a kiss between the two of them, an audience member shouted, “This is disgusting!” and left the theatre.
As far as tech, the Bug Theatre is a smaller venue with limited space for an audience or intricate set. The microphones are iffy quality but still make the cast audible. The lighting is colorful and minimal. The set is extremely simple, and the cast relies mainly on props to tell the story. Costuming is simple but convincingly 80s. The cast proves itself worthy of the high-energy, 80’s cult-classic story that still hasn’t stopped being relevant.
From mean girls to daddy issues, from hating one’s hometown to teenage suicide and the overall horror of high school, Heathers will never not be able to encapsulate the teenage experience.
Well, sort of. Most high schoolers probably experience less murder. But only slightly.
It’s a fantastic rendition of a fantastic show, and audience members will be leaving with the pop-rock show tunes stuck in their head for days on end.
Heathers the Musical is playing at the Bug Theatre from April 5 to 27.
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