Goodwood Institute Theatre
Until 24 Feb 2018

Review by Jamie Wright

That a cult-favourite late-1980s black comedy film released has made it to an Adelaide stage in the form of musical (first staged in the US in 2010) is a testament to the strength of the core story and the themes – bullying, gun violence – that are (sadly) just as relevant now as they were then.

This particular production is the ‘High School Edition’, which means the show has been significantly de-fanged: the swearing, drug use and sex scenes have cut – but that’s not to say it’s completely toothless; plenty of wit, dark humour and the significant social commentary remain. That said, it does make some of the scenes a little confusing as to what exactly took place.

Camryn Jordans is great as the somewhat dorky and then conflicted Veronica, and Monica Horta has a great deal of fun with some of the show’s best material as Heather Chandler. Daniel Cropley is good as the brooding JD, but is at time a bit too restrained in his singing. Courtney Sandford (Heather McNamara) and Ella Heywood-Smith (Martha) shine when their characters have their solo moments; Heywood-Smith’s rendition of “Kindergarten Boyfriend” is a standout.

There’s a backing track rather than an orchestra, which means there isn’t quite the warmth you get from live instruments. There’s minimal set – though some interesting and creative use of lighting on a few occasions – and the choreography is solid for the numbers featuring a small number of characters but a little less inspired when the stage is full. There were some sound issues – in numbers where a character speaks while the ensemble sings the latter are way too loud, making it difficult to understand the dialogue. Costumes are excellent.

This is essentially a youth production, with everything that tends to go with that – but the strength of the material, some good creative decisions and a solid leading cast make for a fun show.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)