The original “Mean Girl” Heather Chandler has resurrected at New World Stages in New York City as HEATHERS: The Musical is knocking audiences dead night after night. The musical, based on the 1988 dark teen comedy, has a solid cult-following fanbase, a story that both stays true to the movie and gives the story needed fixings, and a killer soundtrack (written by Kevin Murphy and Tony nominee Laurence O’Keefe).
The cast album includes the vocal talents of Barrett Wilbert Weed (Veronica Sawyer), Ryan McCartan (Jason “JD” Dean), Jessica Keenan Wynn (Heather Chandler), Alice Lee (Heather Duke), Elle McLemore (Heather McNamara)’ Jon Eidson (Ram Sweeney), Evan Todd (Kurt Kelly) Katie Ladner (Martha Dunstock, and an incredibly talented ensemble.
Heads up, if you don’t want any spoilers, no worries. I’ll do my best to omit them, but there will be a SPOILER ALERT right before anything huge is given away. Okay, without any further ado, here is my track-by-track review of the Heathers cast album!
Track 1: Beautiful
September 1, 1989. The first words of the show and the song. This opening number is filled with exposition. Veronica Sawyer, the heroine of the story, goes through the song introducing characters and receiving a total makeover. The great thing about this song is that it clears up the beginning of the movie right off the bat. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Veronica is already part of the Heathers clique in the beginning of the film-in “Beautiful”, it is explained how she got there. The tune is a great attention grabber and sets the bar for the rest of the soundtrack.
Track 2: Candy Store
Queen Bee Heather Chandler demands Veronica’s unquestioning loyalty in this song. It’s time for her to prove she isn’t a loser anymore by playing a mean-spirited prank on her former best friend Martha. The song is by far the catchiest one on the album and is such a great way to showcase all three (Heather Chandler, Heather Duke and Heather McNamara) in-crowd characters. Also HUGE shout out to Jessica Keenan Wynn for knocking this number out of the park.
Track 3: Fight For Me
Now, to the average listener this song is a very sweet (and slightly odd) showing of affection as Veronica starts falling for “Mr. No-Name Kid” JD. That’s what it is, however, to those who have seen it performed on stage know its highly entertaining and hilarious choreography. I’m not going to give it away, so if you needed a reason to see the show. it’d be to see “Fight For Me” live.
Track 4: Freeze Your Brain
This is the first time JD sings and we get a glimpse of why he is the way he is. I think the way Murphy and O’Keefe wrote this “Ode to the Slushee” is so smart because of the way they infused JD’s childhood hardships into a song that would seem somewhat silly without them.
Track 5: Big Fun
In every cliché teen movie there is the scene with that one party at that popular person’s house where there is a bunch of underage drinking and hormone-charged teens. This song is the musical embodiment of those scenes. And dang-dang-diggity-dang-a-dang is it…dare I say…it’s “big fun” to listen to.
Track 6: Dead Girl Walking
This song is by far one of my favorites on the album. This raunchy, sexy duet between JD and Veronica takes the place of the strip croquet match the characters have in the movie. And it is RIDICULOUSLY fantastic. And Barrett Wilbert Weed should really just sing everything, all the time, always.
Track 7: The Me Inside of Me
And the first murder is committed! But before fleeing the scene, Veronica writes (and sings) Heather Chandler’s “suicide” note. The song goes through the police finding her body and her former classmates’ and teachers’ reactions-all while she’s giving her red scrunchie-best commentary.
Track 8: Blue
Okay, enter a very drunk and very…sexually excited Kurt and Ram as they try to convince a sober and annoyed Veronica to “make their balls not blue.” Once again, I bow down to the excellence of Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. How does someone possibly think to write a bluesy tune ABOUT WANTING SEX?! Like…I want to go around singing it all the time, but since I work with children that’s probably a bad idea. Brilliantly done, gentlemen. Oh, and if “Fight For Me” doesn’t convince you to see the show, I’m sure the fact that this song has a reprise (unfortunately not featured on the album) will.
Track 9: Our Love is God
This song is the Act One finale. Here JD’s psychotic side begins to show itself as he not only kills 2 of his classmates, but also tells Veronica that he worships her & would trade his life for hers. It sounds less romantic & more psycho on the song, I promise. The ending of the song is so powerful because you can hear JD’s voice changing from sincere boyfriend to obsessed sociopath, so kudos to Ryan McCartan on that.
Track 10: Dead Gay Son
The first song of Act Two picks up at Kurt & Ram’s funeral where their fathers hilariously try to understand and accept their sons’ “suicides.” I don’t want to give the song away, so just listen to it yourself and laugh, be shocked, and potentially cry.
Track 11: Seventeen
In this beautiful heartbreaking duet, Veronica pleads with JD to stop playing God. All she wants to do is be a kid while she still can be and the lyrics of this song perfectly lay that out. Barrett and Ryan have such great vocal chemistry and that is best shown on this gem of a track.
Track 12: Shine a Light
Amid all of the tragedy plaguing Westerburg High School, local “hippie” teacher Ms. Flemming tries to bring the whole school together to feel, heal and express themselves…and she definitely participates. The song is a great comedic and uplifting number. It is impossible not to smile during this one.
Track 13: Lifeboat
The shortest non-reprise song on the album is also one of the most powerful songs in the whole production. The lyrics really open your eyes and the way Elle McLemore delivers it makes you feel her character’s pain and desperation with every note she belts.
Track 14: Shine A Light (Reprise)
Remember when I said that Shine a Light was an uplifting song? Its reprise is the exact opposite. Even though Heather Duke takes over as top bitch at Westerburg earlier in the show, she doesn’t become a MYTHIC bitch until this song-at least in my opinion. Although I cannot stand the character who sings the song, I give props once again to Kevin and Laurence for incorporating the “Candy Store” lyrics back into this song. It really makes the show come full circle.
Track 15: Kindergarden Boyfriend
In another heart-shattering performance, Katie Ladner rips listeners hearts out as Martha takes this song to explain how she feels and makes a very drastic life decision. The brilliant thing about this song is the writers found a way to keep the comedic lyrics in the song tastefully. The song gradually gets gloomier and by the time Katie sings her last “oo”s, you can’t help but sit there in shock at the beauty and sadness of the song.
Track 16: Yo Girl
Okay, I know there is a song about loving your gay dead son, a song about blue balls, and a song about loving frozen beverages, but in my opinion, this is the weirdest song on the album. The ghosts of Heather, Ram & Kurt haunt Veronica as she visits Martha in the hospital and try to warn her about JD’s breaking into her bedroom. The weird thing about this song (other than the fact that there are ghosts singing) is the lyric “smell how gangsta you are,” and the fact that it works in this song. This number is a really important one because the writers were able to find a way to bring these characters back to life (sort of) with it.
Track 17: Meant to Be Yours
THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG ON THE ALBUM. That’s a hard thing for me to admit because I love all of the songs so dearly. But the way Ryan McCartan takes this song and takes everyone who listens to it on a musical emotional roller coaster is absolutely brilliant. Seriously, I’ve never been both attracted to and afraid of a character more in my whole life. Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy did a more than magnificent job on this song.
Track 18: Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)
The reason this is my favorite reprise on the album is it is Veronica’s redemption song. She is trying to not only fix what she’s broken but also try to get JD to redeem himself-to no avail.
Track 19: I Am Damaged
In JD’s final scene, he tells Veronica that he is far too damaged to be fixed, but that she is good and can repair what they broke together. In the end it is realized that all he ever did was worship her…albeit he took it WAY too far, but the way Murphy and O’Keefe redeem this seemingly nonredeemable character through his final song is remarkable.
Track 20: Seventeen (Reprise) I could not think of a better way to end the show if I tried. Hearing how the show’s characters come full circle and learn to accept each other and just be seventeen years old…is beautiful (pun totally intended.).
Hear a few of the songs on the album on Spotify here, and when you become obsessed with them purchase the album on iTunes or buy the actual CD on Amazon. Oh, and go see HEATHERS: The Musical playing at New World Stages. Click here for ticket information!