What do you get when you pair teen angst and drama with faked suicides and a high-energy musical performances?

That must be the question asked by the creators of Heathers when they took an 80s cult film starring Winona Ryder and adapted it for the stage.

Contrasting dark comedy with bright colours, Heathers is a musical that explores the hierarchy of high school with a mixture of upbeat bops and emotional tunes about depression and loss.

Now, with the show on tour, the movie’s cult popularity has transferred to the audience of the Theatre Royal in Brighton.

After gaining a following of passionate young fans on TikTok, a sea of faces resembling the 17-year-olds depicted in the musical filled the stalls.


Perhaps that is why some of the themes of the musical resonate so much. The production heavily focuses on teenagers wanting to fit in, and that is something that many in the crowds could identify with.

In lead male Jason ‘JD’ Dean, Heathers has a complex, deeply troubled character played with a subtle, psychological edge.

Jacob Fowler’s voice in songs helps to bring the pain of the antagonist alive as he murders his way through his teenage contemporaries. While you can’t agree with the killer’s methods, Fowler’s performance can at least help you understand how JD became the psychopath he is.

The Argus: Jenna Innes as Veronica Sawyer and Jack Fowler as JDJenna Innes as Veronica Sawyer and Jack Fowler as JD (Image: Pamela Raith)

Other standouts in the production include Verity Thompson’s Heather Chandler whose presence is felt throughout the musical. While on stage, her vocals are a highlight and her character's status on the top rungs of the popularity ladder is felt even while slipping around in the background.

Overall, there is much to like about the production. Fowler’s JD and Veronica Sawyer, played by Jenna Innes, certainly have chemistry as the troubled lead couple.

Get more stories delivered to your inbox every day by signing up to our morning newsletter

The songs are powerful, the costume and colours are bright and there is a clear contrast to the teen deaths throughout the performance.

There were whoops and cheers at the end of every song. The cast certainly deserved the praise.

Heathers is playing at the Theatre Royal until March 18.