It has been 25 years since “Heathers” debuted at the movie box office. The film did not benefit financially at the time, but since “Heathers” premiered in March of 1989, it has slowly gained a cult following. The musical adaptation, scripted by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, showcases the classic reunion of Westerberg’s social cliques, while keeping close to the original story as well as reviving numerous of the famed quotable lines from Daniel Waters screenplay (What’s your damage?!). The musical opened on March 28th, the day of the 25th anniversary of the film to both satisfying reviews and audience members. Cliche’s Heather Glock was able to catch up with performer Alice Lee, whom portrays her version of Heather Duke in this adaptation of the black comedic film on stage.
Cliche: What attracted you to this particular musical? Were you a fan of the movie growing up?
Alice Lee: I actually didn’t see the movie until after I had booked the show! Haha but I knew that the musical was something I wanted to be part of just from the couple of songs I heard on YouTube and the sides I had to prepare for my audition. The energy of the team in the audition room was also an indicator that it would be a fun show to do – they were so kind and funny and cool. And once I saw the movie, I LOVED it and got even more excited about the musical. I didn’t know what to expect with the movie, and it turned out to be hilarious (the humor was right up my alley) and surprisingly dark, which I loved.
Were you ever part of any clique or group in high school?
I was, I guess. Nothing like the Heathers though haha. I was in choir and was really involved in my high school’s music department, so I guess that was my clique or group. I was in a cappella groups and sang in our variety shows. I know, I was very cool haha. But really, it was so much fun.
Can you relate to your character Heather Duke in any way?
I think I can relate to Heather Duke in the way that, despite her malice, jealousy and her desire to be on top, she just wants to fit in, and I think that’s something to which we can all relate. At some point in our lives, we’ve all wanted to be in the “in” crowd. But our show shines a light on how it’s okay to be yourself, to love yourself, despite what the world or other people may say. There’s a lot of hope and heart in our show, along with the laugh out loud humor, which I think results in something so beautiful and fun to watch.
Director Andy Fickman stated in another interview that he slipped in fan favorite quotes, whether it be lyrical or spoken. Are you excited to see how fans will react once they hear their favorite lines?
Yes, it’ll be very. Haha we’ve already been getting some amazing responses. When some of the iconic lines are said, it’s like everyone was waiting for them. They holler and cheer when they hear them haha. The movie is such a cult classic – I think Andy, Kevin & Larry (our rock star creative team) successfully kept all the good moments and lines in the show while using new devices (like the music and the fact that the entire show takes place on one stage) to tell the story in a new way.
Heathers is a cult favorite and your opening day is on the 25th anniversary of the theater release. The cast and crew of the film gave the musical production their blessing and the short run in LA was continuously sold out. How does it feel to be a part of something so widely accepted and popular before it even premiers in New York?
It feels awesome. It’s so great knowing that we have the support of the cast and team of the film. I think it’s a testament to how the musical really stays true to the movie – fans of the movie will love the show and people who haven’t seen the movie will still be able to follow along and enjoy it as well. I was not a part of the production in LA, but I was told that Winona Ryder came to see the show and absolutely loved it and chatted with the cast afterwards. Dan Waters (who wrote the movie) also saw the show in LA and is here in New York now catching some of our performances and it’s a solid feeling knowing he gives us his blessings. We’re so excited to be opening on the anniversary of the release of the movie – we now get to be a part of the Heathers history! It’s a big Heathers family and it’s very special.
The set and costumes are flashy 80’s style, but the theme and tone of Heathers is very dark. Did you feel that the contrast of the visuals, combined with the darker themes of the story were initially disconcerting, or did you find that they complimented each other in telling the true story of Heathers?
I think they work beautifully together. I love the color scheme in the movie – they’re quite symbolic as well as iconic – and our musical keeps all of those colors. Our set and costume designers really captured the spirit of the movie with the bright and flashy visuals and I think they balance out some of the dark content in the show.
With rehearsals and performing a few nights a week, have you adopted any Heathers slang in your daily vocabulary?
Haha YES! The slang is so good – Dan Waters really created a whole vernacular for this movie and it’s so cool how it has caught on and people are able to so easily recognize certain lines and phrases from the show.
Can we expect to see you along with the rest of the cast and crew performing this musical in the near future on Broadway?
We have high hopes for this musical and we’re so thrilled with the enthusiastic response we’ve been receiving. We’re very excited to see what’s next!
Photos courtesy of Chad Batka.