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Blackout Theatre: Heathers - Review by Nicole Smith

Blackout Theatre's production of 'Heathers: The Musical is a powerful journey into the darker side of high school life, and it is Beautiful.

This adaptation of the cult classic film takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride through the dark and twisted world of high school. It explores popularity, identity, and the consequences of one's actions.

Buckle in this show is one hell of a ride.

Dynamic lighting transitions and colour choices add an instantly recognisable palate of primary colours synonymous with the Heathers. From the moment we begin, the lighting design effectively sets the mood for each scene, expertly enhancing storytelling.

MD’s Koren Beale and Matthew Herne get busy immersing the audience in the soundtrack of a new generation with expert precision. There is a wide range of genres to cover, from catchy pop tunes to rock anthems, all of which contribute to the distinctive atmosphere of the show. Standout numbers include "Beautiful" and "Seventeen", which showcase the vocal prowess of the cast, while songs like "Dead Girl Walking" and "Freeze Your Brain" provide moments for the leads to shine.

Daniella Giles and Lauren Mackinnon’s choreography is sharp and precise, and the cast works their way through the show as one. There are no weak links in the chain. This cast has worked and been worked and is loving moving on this stage.

The set will be familiar to regular patrons in its use of levels with staircases and double doors opening between. It seamlessly transitions from the hallways of Westerberg High to dark and moody hangouts. The attention to detail in the set design, including lockers, bedroom vignettes, and even dirtied school windows, adds authenticity and transports the audience into the students' world.

With Heathers, there is an expectation of the signature crisp tartan skirts and blazers, which was well met in this production. Tick. The Heathers are immaculate in appearance.

There is a great costume reveal I’ve not seen in any production, a real wow moment. I don’t want to ruin that moment for you. You’ll have to see it yourself. Let’s say Kate Simmons has outdone herself not only with The Heathers but with all of the characters who are well represented. You can spot each stereotype immediately.

Veronica Sawyer (Jenna Woolley), the protagonist, is brought to life with depth and awkward vulnerability, displaying a relatable mix of rebellion and inner conflict. Boy, can she belt out a song. Dead Girl Walking is an absolute standout. JD (Aleks Justin), the enigmatic love interest, is captivating in his portrayal of a troubled yet charming outsider. As he loses his grip on reality, Justin absolutely shines. It is a subtle and sublime dip into madness, where, at its core, is an abandoned little boy. The chemistry between this pair is palpable. They showcase vocal prowess, emotional depth, comedic timing and some smoking sexiness.

Katie Staddon, in the role of lead Heather Chandler, commands the stage when she is on it—the epitome of power and popularity. Haley McCudden (Heather McNamara) and Claire Hutchison (Heather Duke) round out the clique, and together, they are the dark side of popularity, showcasing the harsh realities of high school hierarchies. They are so very.

In her bio, Caitlyn Bateman urges readers to reach out and check in on their friends, an important message to take away from this show. Her portrayal of Martha Dunnstock is shy and insecure, drawing in the audience with her heartfelt performance. Through her musical numbers, such as "Kindergarten Boyfriend" " she becomes a sympathetic and relatable figure, highlighting the harmful effects of bullying and the importance of compassion in high school settings.

Characters Kurt (Will Smith) and Ram (Tim Drummond) exhibit behaviours such as objectification of women, bullying, and disregard for consent. We do get to see some glimpses of vulnerability and great physical comedy between the duo; however, Drummond and Smith do such a great job with the toxic characters we love to hate them.

Director Jordan Anderson plucks Each character's journey flaws and all and beautifully lays them bare, exploring the pressures of conformity, the desire for acceptance, and the consequences of actions. He doesn’t hold his cast back, which might be confronting at some points for some. The cast's collective talent in seamlessly blending acting, singing, and dancing creates an explosive performance from start to finish.

4.5 out of 5 Freeze your brain slushies.

It is so very.

Photo Credits: Maria Gorelik

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