The Heathers, the original "Mean Girls," get their own musical adaptation at New World Stages. Credit: Chad Batka
Unlike the spate of increasingly obnoxious parody plays cropping up, Andy Fickman’s “Heathers: The Musical” is an actual adaptation of the cult classic film. It lovingly roasts the movie while retaining its plot, catchphrases and characters.
If you somehow haven’t caught the ’80s original, you can still enjoy the play (about taking down the cool and cruel — permanently) now at New World Stages. It packs dark humor and twisted lyrics into every scene and song, from anecdotes about horny teens getting it on to a number called “Blue” about when guys want to but, um, can’t. Other great sequences include “Dead Girl Walking” and “My Dead Gay Son.” And there’s plenty more, but we won’t give anything away.
Kevin Murphy, co-creator of the campy “Reefer Madness” movie, is old hat at skewering show tune stereotypes. He’s aided by Laurence O’Keefe, of Broadway’s “Legally Blonde,” on book, lyrics and music. Put them together, and you can just guess how the evening’s going to go.
The music’s super catchy (we’ve had “Candy Store” stuck in our head for days) and the cast delivers every outlandish syllable with a delightful combo of self-aware silliness and spoofy seriousness. Notable is the amazingly named Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica, the outsider who’s desperate to be accepted by the school’s resident “Mean Girls” prototypes, the three Heathers. Her voice is both attractive and original, with an impressive range and fortitude throughout the night.
The only letdown here is the stage itself: It’s barren, save for one elevated platform. Very few props are utilized; a lot is left up to the imagination (some really great lighting design doesn’t make up for the fact that it’s trained on nothing). Even the costumes, which should have been a designer’s dream, failed to take any liberties. And please don’t get us started on Weed’s hopeless hair, or we might start sounding like a Heather ourselves.
Thankfully, the house more than makes up for these shortcomings with its affordable bar in the lobby ($4 sangria!) and specialty cocktails that are actually brought to your seat at intermission like ordering a hot dog at the ballpark. This practice should be adopted by every theater in the city. (Although maybe if they bumped up each cup by a few bucks, they could actually afford a set?)
If you’re looking for the perfect date night, “Heathers” brings it. It’s as potent as drain cleaner, and if you don’t laugh you might be dead inside (as if you’d swallowed said fluid — or have ever slipped it to someone else). At an affordable $50-$75, you can forgive any of the musical’s weaker points, because it more than delivers on its promised entertainment value. In a word, it’s “very.”
If you go
‘Heathers: The Musical’ Through Sept. 7 New World Stages 340 W. 50th St. $50-$75, www.heathersthemusical.com