(Regular freelance arts writer Cate Blouke reviews the Doctuh Mistuh production of "Heathers" at Salvage Vanguard Theatre.)
Mean girls are timeless, and high school is rough for everyone. It’s an awkward time as adolescence struggles to evolve into pre-adulthood, and teens can be especially vicious to each other.
But if you add some singing and dancing to the hormones and havoc, you get the hilarious musical adaptation "Heathers: A New Musical," playing through July 11 at Salvage Vanguard Theatre.
Based on the 1988 cult classic film, it’s the story of a bright but unpopular smart girl, Veronica (Aline Mayagoitia), who stumbles into the group of "it" girls (all, as you might guess, named Heather). The Heathers maintain their popularity through a combination of beauty and cruelty — staying on top by keeping others down. And when they turn on Veronica, her troubled teen boyfriend, JD (Gray Randolph), strikes back with deadly force.
Produced by Doctuh Mistah Productions under Michael McKelvey’s direction, the show is camp at its most delightful. McKelvey and his company boldly bring us musicals we otherwise wouldn’t get to see (such as last year’s production of "Silence! The Musical" — a joyfully ridiculous adaptation of "Silence of the Lambs").
With a huge cast of talented performers drawn from musical theater programs across the country, McKelvey makes "Heathers" as much fun as one could hope for. The show features songs about (un)popularity, Slurpees and frustrated teenage sexuality.
Gray Randolph glides his way from sexy bad boy to creepy sociopath so smoothly that Aline Mayagoitia doesn’t know what hit her. But any former teenage girl can relate to Aline’s angsty love affair with her damaged fellow, and she does a great job of carrying the lead.
The three Heathers (Taylor Bryant, Kassiani Menas and Celeste Castilo) are all marvelously sexy and vicious, and as the dumb, bullying jocks (Kurt and Ram), Jeff Jordan and Ricky Gee add a lot of laughs to the show.
The choreography is snappy and the songs are hilarious, though the live band often competes with the vocals rather than accompanying them. That along with some technical and microphone hiccups detracted a bit from the show’s overall polish, but it’s still an impressive display of sinister silliness.
"Heathers" will run in repertory with a live version of "The Rocky Horror Show," which opened Wednesday, as Doctuh Mistuh brings a delightful summer of cult classics to Austin that are even more fun on stage.