Heathers: The Musical's Alice Lee On Why This Show Is "VERY"

Photo: Courtesy of Heathers: The Musical.
Though we were less-than-stoked for a Heathers TV adaptationThe Ashleys? Sacrilege! — news that the '80s classic would be taking the stage had us bolting for the box office. Now that the off-Broadway production has opened, we can't help but dig deep into our closets for old scrunchies. And re-learn the rules of croquet. And ask our coworkers, "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" (You get the idea.)
The show remains largely true to the beloved 1988 film, delicately balancing darkness and colorful comedy with each newly penned song and original dance number. As an audience member, it's hard not to laugh out loud at "Blue" (which describes a specific state of male sexual frustration) or to leave humming the sweet melody of "Seventeen."
But, don't let our serious case of nostalgia sway you. Click through for snaps from the show as well as thoughts on relationships, high school, and more from Alice Lee, who plays the role of Heather Duke. You "gotta motor" to New World Stages if you want to see it for yourself.
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Photo: Courtesy of Heathers: The Musical.
What was it like to recreate this '80s world in 2014?
"SO. MUCH. FUN. It's always nice to enter into a different world when you do a show. We get to wear the fashion of the '80s (with a slight modern twist), which I love, as well as showcase some signature dance moves from that time. I love how the show...reminds us that no matter what the time period, we all go through the same things — the same emotions. We're all human, and the struggles we go through are universal, which means that we really are not alone."

Had you seen the film before you found out the show was happening?
"I hadn’t! I was late to the party, but when I watched it, I absolutely loved it. I had no idea what to expect and the movie was so hilarious and dark, I was very pleasantly surprised. I understood immediately why people love it so much."
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Photo: Courtesy of Heathers: The Musical.
What has Heathers taught you about what to do, and what NOT to do, with friendships?
"Don't take advantage of them or use them. Don't be a bitch...stand up for your friend. Fight for your friend. Be open, don't judge...instead of comparing ourselves to each other and hating, wanting to be better than each other, we really should be celebrating our differences and beauty.

The cruelty and jealousy amongst the Heathers is something we all have experienced or seen in some way. I think the friendship between Veronica and Martha...is beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s honest in the way Veronica makes the bad choice of ditching Martha once she’s popular but then reunites with her, upon realizing how important true friends are."
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Photo: Courtesy of Heathers: The Musical.
What will fans of the movie see in the musical that they'll like? What will they see that's new?
"The musical really stays true to the movie. The tone is very similar and all the lines you want to hear will be there: 'What's your damage?,' 'How VERY,' and 'Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.' The iconic colors will be there, too. The writer of the movie, Dan Waters, [is] very supportive of this musical version. Our co-book writers Kevin and Larry did a stellar job of keeping the language of the movie as well as adapting it to tell the story in a new way.

The music is new, and what Larry and Kevin wrote is amazing...it really enhances and adds to the storytelling. I think audiences are going to walk away humming the songs and wanting to hear them over and over again. Our director, Andy Fickman, truly and successfully took the spirit of Heathers, the movie, and transferred that entire world onto one stage. It's genius."
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Photo: Courtesy of Heathers: The Musical.
What are your favorite parts of the movie? And the show?
"I love the scene in the movie with the faculty — all of them smoking their cigarettes and not giving a shit about anything. Also, one of the last scenes where Winona is standing in front of the school...she's all dirty and grungy, has a cigarette loosely on her lips and looks so badass...I seem to like scenes with cigarettes! The trippy funeral scenes are great — and, finally, since I'm playing Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty's part), I've got to give a shoutout to the montage where Shannen is posing by the window once she has pretty much taken over as leader of the school. The music during that part is killer.

And in the musical? Oh man, seriously there are so many great moments. You’ll laugh out loud during the funny scenes and then tear up with the heart-wrenching ballads. Everyone in the cast is so talented; it's really a joy to watch them."

Without giving too much away, what will surprise audience members the most?
"Well, the movie is pretty dark, and while the musical is dark and edgy as well, it is also uplifting. It's optimistic. It shines a light on how things will/can get better. The show has a lot of heart and I think audiences will be surprised at the emotional journey they're taken on when they see it. There's love, hate, forgiveness, hope — you get it all."