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Heathers the Musical
Heathers The Musical
Corn Stock Winter Playhouse
November 6-7 & 12-15

By Stan Strickler


I was looking forward to seeing Heathers the Musical which opened at Corn Stock Winter Playhouse since I like dark comedy, and new edgy musicals. Some of my recent favorites have been Spring Awakening, Avenue Q, Next to Normal, and Kinky Boots. However I found Heathers to be disturbing and hateful. I had seen the movie a number of years ago and found it an amusing dark comedy but I guess that events since then have dulled my taste for comedies about school shootings, gang rape, and revenge. I found this show neither entertaining nor enlightening, but hateful and misogynistic.

The story revolves around three queen bees at Westerburg High School all named Heather and the wannabe Veronica who in desiring to be part of the in crowd gets more than she bargained for. She falls for JD, the new troubled loner at the school, whose mother committed suicide and who has a poor relationship with his father who destroys buildings. Under the guise of helping Veronica to overcome the social order of the school, he begins killing those who he thinks have hurt her.

While I did not particularly enjoy the show, the cast was really quite good with generally pleasant voices and great acting ability. Especially outstanding was Rebekah Dentino as Veronica. She brought a sweetness to the role and portrayed her conflicted feelings as she was drawn in to the revenge plot. In addition she has a lovely voice with a great ability to sing both plaintive songs like “Seventeen” and harder edged songs like “Dead Girl Walking.” Joey Banks also did a credible job as JD, the conflicted outsider. He portrayed JD’s distaste for all things popular and his outsider status well. However his portrayal seemed to be a little one note, all hatred and none of the internal conflict or understanding of his motives. Perhaps though that is more the fault of the script since we never really delve enough into his character to realize why he wants revenge on everyone. Joey has a pleasant voice, but he seemed a little off key in “Freeze Your Brain” particularly at the ends of phrases.

The women playing the three Heathers also portrayed their characters well. I especially liked Mariah Thornton as Chandler the queen of the queen bees. She certainly commanded the stage as she ordered everyone around and was able to do so even after she died. Alex Scranton and Jake VanHoorn as the two football players were audience favorites especially in their song “Blue,” a song almost justifying date rape which I found distasteful, but the audience found hilarious especially the twenty something crowd sitting around me.

The set was minimal and colorful and served the actors well, and the various levels added to variety and a great use of space. Especially well executed and designed though was the lighting which helped define scenes and add to the many different emotions of the play. Aliesha Graves, Jake Sleva and Megan Larke are to be commended for an inventive use of lighting to define space and create mood. Director Nyk Sutter assembled a really talented cast and used the space well; however, the opening number was marred by a blocking problem When we are supposed to be introduced to the various characters and the view is blocked by a solid line of chorus members holding lunch trays, it was difficult to realize conflict and characters from the beginning. Although that obstruction was very short, it still interfered with the dramatic purpose of the scene.

Although I did not particularly like this show, the audience around me seemed to really enjoy it, especially the twenty somethings who I presume had friends in the show and the proud parents of cast members sitting in front of me. All in all the production was good, the cast was talented, and the musicians were laudable. I just wish I could have enjoyed the show itself.

Heathers the Musical continues at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and on Sunday at 2:30 pm.  Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students and are available at the Corn Stock box office, by calling 309-676-2196 or online at www.CornStockTheatre.com

Posted on November 9, 2015