Review: Heathers: The Musical – Arts Centre Melbourne (Performances until May 22nd)

What a time to be alive and witness the magnitude of talent we have here in Australia. If you have yet to experience the incredible gifts of our young Aussie guys and girls, then Heathers: The Musical is the best way to ease you in.

Amidst a sea of scrunchies, yes that’s right scrunchies, the Arts Centre foyer was filled with eager fans to celebrate the Hayes Theatre’s Melbourne season of Heathers: The Musical. Now, for those of you playing at home, it is important to know a couple things before heading into this show. Firstly, it was created by the same dream team who brought Legally Blonde The Musical to life, so you no doubt already have a sense of what pop-tastic tunes and pop culture references will unfold. Secondly, be prepared to explore some dark themes that you may not have necessarily thought were going to be brought up. A suitable 16+ age minimum is recommended.

From the very opening we are taken back to an 80s high school setting where the jocks, geeks, weirdos and popular girls are alive and kicking. A show like this is relatable on so many levels to so many different age groups because it explores a pivotal time in our lives; a time where we search for our true selves or get lost in the crowd.

Director Trevor Ashley, choreographer Cameron Mitchell and Musical Director Bev Kennedy have created something so special with this cast. What they achieved in such a short rehearsal period is nothing short of amazing, as the depths of character exploration through song and dance were unlike anything we’ve seen in the Australian musical theatre industry. This cast of young and vibrant performers are without a doubt the future of this industry and their abilities to show remarkable depth and poise will no doubt carry them down a long and prosperous career path.

Hilary Cole as Veronica Sawyer is a knock-out. There is no denying the girl can sing and hit notes that defy gravity, but her vulnerability that came through such a gutsy character is what gave this show heart, and without it who knows how the the themes of suicide and school shootings would have been received. In a society where suicide statistics are climbing and school shootings in the United States are happening more often than anyone can imagine, the exploration of these through comedy and black humour is what makes it digestible. At first, it is quite confronting but once the arc of the story unravels, we understand its purpose. The show isn’t entirely a depressive insight into such serious issues, but it does awaken us to the realities that we may not necessarily face here in Australia.

Rebecca Hetherington, Hannah Fredericksen and Lucy Maunder as the ‘Heathers’ clique are like a good trio of dips – Hetherington a creamy hummus with good intentions but a squeeze of lemon juice,  Fredericksen a spicy capsicum with enough chilli to have you steaming out your ears, and Maunder a cool Tzatziki but as foul as the off Greek yoghurt. Enjoy these three together, or separately, but we do suggest adding some warm Turkish bread on the side to soften the harshness of their personalities.

Special mention must go to Lauren McKenna for her impeccable portrayal of the school nerd as well as the school’s hippie teacher. Her quick changes, soulful vocals and endearing moments brought us belly laughs on tap, as well as a tear or two here and there. On the other hand, the show’s leading man Stephen Madsen as J.D. surprised us all, as his character development was both disturbing and astonishing. Imagine having to tap into the psyche of a gunman. Well, Madsen did just that as his dark and brooding character is what allowed this show to reveal the many struggles people face in real life.

With catchy songs, powerful vocal performances and a quick-wit, Heathers: The Musical is a must-see.


Heathers: The Musical is currently playing until Sunday May 22. Get your tickets from

The reviewer attended the show on opening night May 12.


This content has recently been ported from its original home on Arts on the AU and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT