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Heathers The Musical

a Musical Comedy
by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 5108

SHOWING : July 07, 2017 - August 13, 2017



What’s your damage, Heather? It’s 1989 and Westerberg High is ruled by a ruthless trio of supreme Queen Bees: the Heathers. Brainy and beautiful misfit Veronica Sawyer tries to keep her place in the social food chain, but falls in love with a dangerous and sexy new student J.D., who has other plans for after school -- and they’re deadly. Based on the classic cult film, this homicidal musical has a bit of heart and takes an honest look at the joys and dangers of high school.

Director Charlie Miller
Dums & Percussion L. Gerard Reid
Heather Chandler Janine DeMichele Baggett
Kurt’s Dad/Veronica’s Dad/Principal Jeffery Brown
Ensemble Blake Buhler
Veronica Sawyer Hannah Lake Chatham
Ensemble John Coombs
Ensemble Willis Hao
JD Branden Hembree
Kurt Kelly Joshua Lee Jones
Mrs. Fleming/Veronica’s Mom Liane Lemaster
Martha Dunnstock Sasha Penndorf
Ensemble Jamie Lynn Perniciaro
Ensemble Marshall Lee Smith
Ram’s Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach Ripper Geoff Uterhardt
Ensemble Hope Valls
Ensemble Megan Wartell
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by playgoer
Saturday, August 5, 2017
I’m a bit worn out on high school-centered musicals. "Bring It On" was featherweight fluff, and although "Heathers" brings a dark edge to the material, it’s got a similar sensibility. Young adult audiences seem to eat up its foul-mouthed, sex-driven plot line and jaunty rock score, but I saw one older couple leave the theatre as actors stripped in anticipation of three-way sexual action. This is NOT a family musical.

Onstage Atlanta is presenting an energetic production of "Heathers The Musical." Lauren Rosenzweig’s choreography is the unabashed highlight, adding excitement to the numerous musical numbers. Anna Jenny’s costumes also add to the visual appeal, although Veronica’s makeover from frumpish nerd to style icon doesn’t impress. Ben Rawson’s ambitious lighting design tends to isolate musical solos a bit too obviously, compounded by director Charlie Miller’s active blocking causing movement in and out of spotlit areas.

The flow of the show is enhanced by the unit set, designed by the team of Charlie Miller, Angie Short, and Barbara Uterhardt. Four panels of high school architecture are interspersed with brick walls (stage right), concrete block walls (stage left), a fence, and a raised stage-like area up center. Very little furniture is moved on and off to set scenes; director Charlie Miller assumes his audience is bright enough to translate the unlocalized blocking to specific locations in the story. Props (by Mr. Miller and Courtney Loner) don’t help the localization, with school lunch trays handed out at the beginning of the show looking from a distance much like thin black laptops. It’s only when a line is spoken about the cafeteria and the trays are raised in choreography that the location of the number becomes clear.

Musically, the choral singing is strong, under Paul Tate’s musical direction, and the band sounds great. The sound design of director Charlie Miller and stage manager Amy L. Levin works well. Solo voices, however, tend to be on the weak side. That’s particularly true of Liane LeMaster, who has a raise-the-roof number in which she can barely be heard, despite the presence of a microphone in her hand. Hannah Lake, as protagonist Veronica Sawyer, manages to be audible in some of her songs only through the grace of muffled accompaniment.

Acting is good across the board, and all the actors throw themselves into their roles. Googie Uterhardt, as is typical for him, manages to find a few bits of unexpected physical comedy that tap his performance into a level above that of the rest of the cast. Everyone else acquits themselves well, with their performances geared toward telling the story Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe have devised, based on the cult film. The actors can’t be faulted for the shallowness of the material.

"Heathers The Musical" is another sold-out hit for Onstage Atlanta, which consistently produces musicals far above the quality of standard-issue community theatre fare. This production has all the verve and flair the thin script can support. While it didn’t whelm me, let alone overwhelm me, audiences are flocking to it and rising to their feet in appreciation during curtain call. It’s a well-done production of a distasteful story. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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