The musical adaptation of Winona Ryder's cult film Heathers received a mixed reaction on its opening night on Monday (31Mar14) with critics describing the Off-Broadway show as "lively" and "goofy" yet "sloppy". The stage version of the 1989 black comedy, which focuses on lead character Veronica's battle against a clique of mean schoolgirls, opened at the New World Stages theatre in New York City on Monday, exactly 25 years to the day that the film was released in the U.S.
The musical prompted mixed reactions from theatre reviewers, who praised the enjoyment factor of the production and the score, but attacked the tone and execution.
Peter Santilli from Associated Press writes, "The lively, campy tribute combines all the twisted hum or and teen spirit of its predecessor with a charming score of mostly tuneful melodies and fresh lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy".
Elisabeth Vincentelli from the New York Post praised the decision to keep the movie's signature catchphrases, calling the show "a joy" and adding, "If you want to relive a cult flick, head over to the ingenious, very funny Heathers: The Musical, which pulls off wonders on a shoestring." However, she later admits the second act "nearly derails" once the antagonists have been killed off.
Alexis Soloski from Guardian.com criticised the musical's whimsical tone, writing, "It's difficult to feel too distressed by a show that's pretty sure it can resolve even multiple murder with a few harmonies and a synchronised dance number," and David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter concurred, adding, "More willingness to go dark rather than keep winking at the audience would have been welcome."
Rooney adds, "Even Andy Fickman's inert direction, which gets especially sloppy during the climactic mayhem, isn't a total deal breaker... This is a goofy show more dependent on inbuilt affection for the movie than on finessed execution."
Comedian Billy Crystal and pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, who currently stars in the Broadway production of Cinderella, were in the audience.
A musical adaptation of Winona Ryder's cult film Heathers is heading to the New York stage this coming spring (14). The theatre version of the dark comedy, which pitted Ryder's character against a clique of fellow schoolgirls, all named Heather, has been in the works for the past few years and had a brief run for developmental purposes at the Hudson Backstage Theater in Los Angeles recently.
Now, Tony Award-nominated composer Laurence O'Keefe, writer Kevin Murphy and director Andy Fickman have announced plans to unveil the production at the New World Stages venue in the Big Apple from 17 March (14) to 7 September (14).
Forgetting Sarah Marshall actress Kristen Bell had previously been selected as the leading lady in the musical adaptation in 2010, but it's not clear if she will lead the cast.
The news comes four months after plans to take the 1988 movie to the small screen suffered a setback as bosses at U.S. network Bravo decided against picking up a Heathers TV series. The project would have followed the life of the teenage daughter of Ryder's character Veronica.