‘Heathers: The Musical’ kills 

click to enlarge Jessica Quarles, right, is fun as Veronica Sawyer in Ray of Light Theatre’s “Heathers: The Musical” at the Victoria Theatre. - COURTESY RACHAEL ROTH
  • COURTESY RACHAEL ROTH
  • Jessica Quarles, right, is fun as Veronica Sawyer in Ray of Light Theatre’s “Heathers: The Musical” at the Victoria Theatre.
If red scrunchies, croquet mallets and a gently carnal use of chainsaws stir fond memories, then check out the very Bay Area premiere of “Heathers: The Musical.”

A moderately successful 1988 film that gained a cult following, “Heathers” starred Christian Slater and Wynona Ryder as J.D. and Veronica, a couple of crazy high school kids in love and out to change their world. Veronica is sick of her shallow power clique (the Heathers) and J.D. suggests offing the mean girls and bad boys who make their lives miserable.

The musical, with score and libretto by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, follows the plot of the film better than a high school Cliff Notes summary and even adds a prologue about Veronica’s indoctrination as a Heather.

Enough of the screenplay by Daniel Waters makes the transition to stage to keep quote-happy film fans happy. (He really should get some credit here.) Changes include keeping dead characters cleverly engaged and turning some memorable one-off lines – “I love my dead gay son!” - into entire production numbers.

Early in the second act, Veronica and J.D. sing of just wanting to be left alone to be 17. The production reaps some possibly unintended irony here as performers Jessica Quarles and Jordon Bridges – and the most of the rest of the company – have 17 firmly planted in their rear-view mirror.

It is, however, a minor quibble when measured against the impressive array of energetic talent on display. Quarles is a great comic presence with solid pipes, ferociously rocking out “Dead Girl Walking.” Bridges doesn’t “do” Slater (who often “does” Jack Nicholson), choosing a different but still menacingly quirky path coupled with a glorious power-balled voice.

The Heathers (Jocelyn Pickett, Samantha Rose Cardena and Lizzie Moss) are deliciously bitch to the third power. Laura Arthur will genuinely break your heart as Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock with “Imaginary Boyfriend.” Paul Hovannes and Nick Quintell are the unlikely but hysterical jock jerks, and there’s some big fun from Teresa Attridge, Jessica Fisher, Andy Rotchadl, Mischa Stephens and ensemble.

In the hands of director Erik Scanlon and the wild-and-crazy team at Ray of Light Theatre, “Heathers: The Musical” throbs to a boisterous, hyper-amped beat. The production is unrestrained and makes great use of the funky Victoria Theatre stage on Angrette McCloskey’s clever set. Scanlon artfully maneuvers his wickedly talented cast, supported by a driving, high-decibel rhythm courtesy of music director Ben Prince and his six-piece band, and a kinetic choreographic debut by award-wining actor Alex Rodriguez.

REVIEW

Heathers: The Musical

Presented by Ray of Light Theatre

Where: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes June 13

Tickets: $25 to $36

Contact: www.rayoflighttheatre.com

About The Author

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol

Bio:
Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and a lifelong arts supporter. Diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!)... more
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