What an inauspicious start to my first visit to the West End. This will be a short and bitter screed; these few things may be used to ameliorate my critique 1) my well know disdain for the movie to musical genre, 2) I was pretty tired when I saw it, but highly caffeinated, 3) this was a beloved and seminal movie of my teenage years.
In no particular order here’s what I didn’t like about the show:
- It was loud. It’s supposed to be a rock musical but rock music does have nuances. Every time I thought “Oh, this song is going to be different!” Nope, a quarter of the way through the song, they’re stage front yelling the lyrics at me at the top of their voices. You know, because loud equals intense emotion. I don’t even remember a single song from the show. Martha Dunstock’s song is the only one that stands out because that was the least yellie of the songs.
- I assume the band was 17 drum sets and 3 bass guitars because it was all percussive all the time.
- I wish this had been a jukebox musical (and you know how I feel about jukebox musical right?) Pre-show and at intermission they piped in some of the great of the 80’s music I grew up with, Hey Mickey, Come on Eileen, 99 Luftballons; it was my favorite part of the show. I mean how crazy would it have been to write an 80’s style score/songs to go with this iconic 80’s movie? Or at least one that wasn’t a perpetual Billy Idol-AC/DC-Twisted Sister mash-up.
- I really really really did not like how they portrayed Heather #1 (aka Chandler). While in the movie she is a supreme mondo bitch, the movie also touched on her own insecurities. The musical touched on Heather #2’s bulimia but it totally skipped the these girls prostituting themselves to the jocks and the college age guys as part of the price of popularity. Here she just was a bitch and you were glad she died, but then she kept coming back! And whoever told the actress speak all her line in that high pitched nasal tone needs to reevaluate that particular piece of direction.
- It just wasn’t funny. The original movie wasn’t funny “haha” but funny in a darkly ironic way. This show never even gets close to what the movie achieved. I’m pretty sure I didn’t laugh once.
- There are very few people, who are not Christian Slater, that can do justice to the role of JD.
- Spoiler Alert: The show tries to redeem JD at the end. He sacrifices himself to save the others because it’s important to Veronica!?!? What!!! No!! He commits suicide and cedes the battle, but there is no altruism in his act. He’s a sociopath. He did not love Veronica, he thought he could control her just like the Heathers.
- The musical also tries to give the boys a sympathetic back story by showing you the abusive relationships they have with their fathers. Having douches for fathers does not excuse douchebag behaviors. And they completely changed JD’s father, he was not loud and abusive, he was utterly disinterested, which can be far more devastating.
- I think giving Veronica’s back story was entirely unnecessary! In the movie her backstory was woven into the narrative. All that exposition did is stretch a pithy 90 minute movie into 2 and 30 minutes of my life that I won’t get back.
- And just to round it out to an even 10, Veronica shouldn’t be blond! Okay, that’s totally on me, I just can’t with the blond Veronica.
I may very well be the cheese that stands alone on this one. The majority of the audience, which skewed heavily towards those who were not alive when the movie came out (or in the decade or two following) cheered each song like it was the score of Hamilton. Kids today…what are you going to do.