Theatre Royal Haymarket – Heathers the Musical

Are movie to stage musical adaptations gearing up?

There were quite a few movie to stage musical adaptations pre-2000; 42nd Street probably being one of the best examples. But there has been quite an influx of such adaptations in 2000s – Kinky Boots, An American in Paris and Legally Blond, just to mention a few. The rumour has it Almost Famous will soon be adapted to stage musical as well. So witch movie would you like to see as a musical?

 

Theatre

Theatre Royal Haymarket is the third oldest London Playhouse still in use. First theatre was constructed in 1720 by a carpenter, John Potter, who did not have a royal patent to run the house as a theatre. The Duke of Montague arranged the first professional production of a French company in the house in 1729, after the Patent Theatres refused to present a play in foreign language. Little Theatre in the Hay (as called back then) hosted French troupe for a while, before it started presenting politically saturated plays written by Henry Fielding. The crowds loved the satire of Henry Fielding, but the Prime Minster did not, so the Licensing Act was introduced in 1737, granting the Lord Chamberlain powers of censorship. Little Theatre was closed for a while before it reopened in 1941 at arrival of Drury Lane’s cast away actors after the internal struggles. In 1754, Samuel Foote stepped in replacing John Potter and obtained Royal Patent for the theatre. He eventually bought the lease of the theatre from Potter’s executors, enlarged the venue and opened the theatre in 1767, as the Theatre Royal, the third patent theatre in London. Foote had numerous successful seasons, but eventually had to sell the theatre to George Colman in 1777. George Colman added a lobby to the theatre and carried some reconstruction works. At death he was succeeded by his son, Colman Jr., who wrote plays for the theatre. Colman Jr. did not have business acumen and ended up in the Debtors Prison. He handed the theatre share to his brother-in-law, David Morris. Under Morris’ management the theatre obtained 99 year lease from the Crown. In 1820, the theatre was fully reconstructed as part of John Nash’ improvement plan approved by the Prince Regent. The new Theatre Royal Haymarket opened in 1921. An actor-playwright Benjamin Webster succeeded Morris in 1837. Benjamin Webster brought comedy back to the theatre. Queen Victoria was a frequenter at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and the Royal Receiving Room (now the VIP Room) and the Royal Box (now Box No.1) were created. Benjamin Webster was succeeded by John Buckstone, who established the theatre as a comedy house and experimented innovative scheduling of plays. In 1879, Squire and Marie Bancroft took the lease, refurbishing the theatre once again. The coupe introduced matinee performances, later copied by other theatres. The Bancrofts were soon replaced by actor-manager, Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Under Tree’s management Oscar Wilde premiered ‘A Woman of No Importance’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’. After 10 years, Tree moved across the road, built Her Majesty’s Theatre and established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904. In 1896, Frederick Harrison and Cyril Maude took the lease, the latter left for the Playhouse Theatre in 1904. Harrison stayed until his death in 1927 and produced Ibsen and Maugham’s plays next to Shakespeare’s. Harrison was succeeded by Horace Watson and he by his son Stuart. The theatre continued to present works by John Gielgud and Noël Coward during the Second World War. In 1971, Louis I. Michaels became the lessee of the theatre. The Theatre is still owned by Louis I Michaels Ltd and overseen by the Chairman, Arnold M. Crook. The freehold of the theatre is owned by the Crown Estate.

 

Plot

First act begins with the first day at Westerburg High School with all the “weirdos”, “bullies”, “queens”, “nerds” and all the other categories of students going through the hell of stereotyping at high school. Veronica, one of the “unpopular” girls at school, attracts the attention of the trio of popular girls, “Heathers”, by demonstrating her ability to forge handwriting. Veronica starts abiding Heathers’ rules to become popular and avoid bulling. A newcomer to school, Jason Dean or J.D., notices her personality and encourages her to show it more, rather than follow Heather behaviour. J.D. gets into fight with the school bullies, Ram and Kurt, and Veronica is enchanted by his masculinity. Veronica gets fed up with the lead Heather, Heather Chandler’s cruelty and she throws a piñata, made to mock Veronica’s old friend – overweight Martha Dunnstock, into the pool at Ram’s house party. Veronica, excited with what she did and scared by what’s to become of her after confronting Heather Chandler, climbs in J.D.’s bedroom and spends the night with him. Next morning, she decides to apologise to Heather and beg for mercy and J.D. accompanies her to Heather’s house. Veronica is fixing a hangover cure to Heather when J.D. proposes giving her drain cleaning solution instead. Veronica takes it as a joke and laughs and kisses him. After the kiss she confuses the cups and gives Heather a cleaning solution cup. J.D. notices this but does not say anything. Heather dies within seconds after drinking from the cup and J.D. suggest that Veronica should forge Heather’s handwriting and write a suicide note, otherwise, the police would not believe her death was un unfortunate incident. When the students learn about Heather Chandler’s suicide and her apologetic suicide note, she becomes a martyr and even more popular girl at school. Soon next-in-line Heather, Heather Duke, assumes control and things stay just as bad at school as they were before Heather Chandler’s death. Veronica and J.D. get to know each other closer and Veronica finds out that J.D. has been patronised by his father and J.D.’s mother committed a suicide, as a result J.D. grew into a psychopath intending to kill all the “bad” people in the world. J.D. kills Ram and Kurt and makes Veronica an accomplice by lying that the bullets were fake, but they were not. Veronica breaks up with J.D. and fakes her own suicide in front of him in order to get rid of him. J.D. decides to blow up the school with all the students in it, but Veronica confronts him as he’s setting up the bomb. They get into a fight and J.D.’s gun goes off and he gets a bullet in his stomach. Veronica does not know how to disarm the bomb, so decides to take it to the football field and sacrifice herself while saving others. But J.D. takes the bomb from her as a final deed. Bomb goes off and kills J.D. Veronica returns to school and informs the students that all the “suicide” frenzy and school ruling is over and they can enjoy being kids while they are still kids.

 

Production

Heathers the Musical was written by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, based on the 1989 film of the same name written by Daniel Waters. The musical was first presented as a concert in New York in 2010 and then had a limited run in Los Angeles in 2013. The musical had Off-Broadway run in 2014 and its official London premiere at The Other Palace in June. Heathers transferred to the Theatre Royale Haymarket in September.

Director:         Andy Fickman

Producer:        Bill Kenwright, Paul Taylor-Mills, Really Useful Group

Casting:          Will Burton for DGA

will@willburtoncasting.co.uk

07980 535 523

Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5AY

 

Ticket

Bought my ticket from Theatre Royal Haymarket’s website. £25 for a middle row seat in the dress circle. The seat has a very good view and ample legroom.

 

Running time is 2 hours 20 minutes.

 

The Theatre Rat

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