'Heathers' review — the cult classic triumphantly returns to the West End

Read our review of Heathers the Musical, starring ITV’s Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream finalist Esme Bowdler, now in performances at @sohoplace until 6 July.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

The cult classic film Heathers may have premiered in 1989, but its darkly comedic storyline about high school growing pains still bites, and continues to draw in legions of young, teenage fans.

This is thanks in large part to Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s musical adaptation, which was brought to the US stage by director Andy Fickman in 2010. It has enjoyed an Off-Broadway run, UK premiere, West End transfer, and two UK and Ireland tours, and now makes a triumphant return to London’s Theatreland, once again attracting those same, loyal fans, decked out in the iconic blazers of the Heathers.

Following the journey of social misfit Victoria Sawyer, who wants to be accepted into the Heathers clique — comprising Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara — the musical shows the price of popularity and the damaging consequences of falling for the alluring new boy at school.

For a musical all about the experiences of young people, it feels appropriate that this London revival stars 13 performers making their West End debuts, including ITV’s Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream finalist Esme Bowdler as Heather Chandler: the OG Regina George. She is statuesque, towering above the other Heathers with a perfectly stony facial expression, but her coldness doesn’t truly cut deep. Sedona Sky, who makes her professional debut as Heather Duke, channels a more natural bitchiness and Daisy Twells, returning as Heather McNamara, shines with strong vocals in her solo number “Lifeboat”.

Sedona Sky, Esme Bowdler and Daisy Twells 1200 LT - Heathers The Musical (2024) - Pamela Raith Photography (005)

However, the success of the musical lies with its dark and disturbing couple Veronica Sawyer (Jenna Innes) and Jason ‘J.D.’ Dean (Keelan McAuley). Innes is no stranger to the part, having played Veronica on the UK and Ireland tour, and her experience shows. She masterfully transitions between a clear-headed maturity and the lust-filled carelessness of being a teenager, entertainingly captured during the raunchy “Dead Girl Walking” number as Veronica owns her sexuality.

McAuley brings a genuinely unnerving tension to JD, as his eyes pop and his mouth contorts during “Freeze Your Brain”, switching from suave and charming to snarling and vicious in seconds. Innes and McAuley’s heart-filled, hopeful duet in “Seventeen” is particularly enchanting.

Keelan McAuley - 1200 LT Heathers The Musical (2024) - Pamela Raith Photography (006)

The strong ensemble ensures energy levels remain high throughout the show. Amy Miles delivers a heart-wrenching solo in “Kindergarten Boyfriend” in her professional debut, while Jason Battersby and Iván Fernández González are a great comic duo, as moronic jocks Ram and Kurt.

Unfortunately, the small, @sohoplace stage feels too cramped for this energetic and fast-paced musical. The venue’s recent productions such as The Little Big Things and Red Pitch were staged intimately in-the-round, and to accommodate Heathers’ thrust stage, the space has been reduced. As a result, Gary Lloyd’s big, wonderfully synchronised choreography — so good when executed by the three hip-swishing Heathers — feels restricted.

But there’s a reason these young fans keep coming back to the show, regardless of where it is staged. This musical has the power to tap into all of the tempestuous emotions associated with being a teenager, and in the hands of its new, ambitious cast, the production really soars.

Book Heathers tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: Esme Bowdler, Jenna Innes, Sedona Sky, and Daisy Twells in Heathers The Musical. (Photo by Pamela Raith)

Originally published on

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