In case you don’t know me personally or are new to this blog, musicals are kind of my jam. Like, I have seen a lot of musicals, and I’ve also seen my fair share of university theatre productions, from a half-assed Rent to a mind-blowing production of Angel in America.
Basically, university theatre can be pretty hit and miss. Luckily for the Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society at McGill University, their production of Heathers was a total hit.
Heathers as a movie is way up there in my favourites, and the same goes for the musical. However, it was the first time I saw it live, despite my being very familiar with the show, so it was super exciting for me. If you’re not familiar with the story, I like to say that it starts off looking like your typical John Hughes-esque 80’s high school movie, then MURDER happens and it stops being cute and gets really dark.
Also, it’s hilarious.
It’s quite a tough show to put on, because the roles are super demanding and most major singing parts require huge ranges. Mariel White shone as Veronica, successfully keeping her down-to-earth and intelligent instead of boxing herself into the broody teenager archetype, and she’s a powerhouse vocally. Caroline Portante as Heather Chandler – the so-called “mythic bitch” of the school – totally killed (heh, see what I did there?) the queen bee role. She commanded attention onstage, just as her character does in the cafeteria. Two other stand-outs were Colin McCrossan and Darragh Mcardle as jocks Ram and Kurt respectively, bringing me and the rest of the audience to tears with laughter. Finally, Esmée Cook bulldozed through her small but hilarious role of hippie teacher Ms. Flemming; she stood out to me, particularly in the song “Shine a Light”, which she leads.
Overall, the cast delivered that perfect balance of humour and darkness that can be so difficult to achieve, and they rocked the choreography during big dance numbers. As an ensemble it was obvious how much they clicked, and their movement as a group was so tight. Basically, it was really clear how much work every single person involved with the production put in to the show. If you like pop-rock scores and have a dark sense of humour, you have to see this production.
They only have four performances left: Saturday January 21, then Thursday the 26th through to the 28th, at Moyse Hall on the McGill campus. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for general admission. You can buy tickets at the door or reserve them on their website.