“Heathers” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ December 7, 2015


Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ

The musical version of the classic cult film, “Heathers,” is loud and that’s not necessarily good.  Not only is the show, presented in its regional premiere by Stray Cat Theatre, loud it was fraught opening night with every possible technical and acting glitch imaginable in a show much more complex than is usual for this company.  Quite frankly, it looked like amateur night at the theater and I’m not sure that additional performances as the run progresses will improve.

The show was an off-Broadway hit last year but it is one of those musicals that must be done with its tongue firmly in its check in order to become even mildly amusing as it mocks conventional teenage stereotypes including repressive angst and teeny-boppers propensity to establish phony appearances.

It is 1989 in Sherwood, a small Ohio suburban town, where Veronica, an attractive and intelligent teen misfit, weasels her way into a high school clique headed by three nitwit girls all named Heather.  Veronica also falls for a sexy but maniacally dangerous new kid, J. D.  She abandons her new found group and sets in motion a predictable end for the gang’s ruler.  Conceived by Kevin Murphy and Lawrence O’Keefe, the mediocre script and the bland score, are forgettable and undistinguished.

In order for this travesty to work, the performers must look, act, and sound like the ding-a-lings they portray.  The Stray Cat cast ambles about the stage in Louis Farber’s busy but confusing staging.  Most appear much older than the young teenagers they portray.  Vocals are chancy at best with many performers crooning painfully through the trashy songs.  Although a choreographer is credited, the musical staging is staggeringly dull and is filled with every predictable dancing bit you’ve seen in other community theater productions.

Curtis Moeller’s band is way too loud and the music easily overpowers the singers who, although equipped with body microphones, can’t make any of the song lyrics or dialogue distinguishable so it is impossible to follow the inane story.  Although there’s a cast of 17, many of the performers play multiple roles and do little to distinguish between the characters.  Only Brittany Howk’s Veronica is passable while Cole Brackney is an evil and fretful J. D. but he can’t sing.

Further annoyances include colorful but uninteresting costuming and a dreadful set that should help more to distinguish plot locales.  There’s really nothing to justify seeing “Heathers.”  This show continues to December 20.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-227-1766 or order online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: F