Ahead of the first ever UK tour of Heathers The Musical, Buzz’s Sarah Bowdidge spoke to Simon Gordon, who plays the lead male role of Jason ‘JD’ Dean – as first performed by Christian Slater in the original 1989 movie.
What can you expect from watching Heathers The Musical if you’ve never seen it?
If you’ve never seen Heathers and you don’t know what you’re signing up for…. that’s great! There’s a lot of twists. I love the show, and I thought it was really funny – I don’t really laugh out loud with a lot of shows but when I was in the audience, I was laughing and chuckling…
How has it been returning to the stage?
It’s so good. I kind of forgot how great it was because you get that rush – literally a chemical hit – from it. A lot of adrenaline, and the buzz from the audience. You can’t replicate it with anything else.
Tell us about JD, your character.
JD’s kind of a weird kid at school – everyone thinks he’s a bit weird. I get a lot of people messaging me, or coming up to me at the stage door, saying, “I can’t believe it, but I really felt sorry for JD. I really liked him!” I tried to make him likeable, but that’s not the be-all and end-all at school. And that’s one of the main messages I think people should take away from the show: high school can seem like the be-all and end-all but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small part of your life that doesn’t define who you are. If you have a hard time, you don’t have to feel like that forever. You can decide who you want to be when you leave.
So what did you think the first time you ever saw Heathers in its theatre incarnation?
I saw Heathers when it was at the Other Palace and I thought it was absolutely amazing. I tweeted after the show how much I loved it, that I thought it was fantastic – and then a couple of years later, to find myself playing JD, was quite a cool full-circle moment.
See Heathers: The Musical LIVE in Cardiff
How did you feel as soon as they said you’ve got the part?
I was ecstatic. It’s actually not that often you’ve seen a show that you’re auditioning for – or with me, anyway – and so I think it’s easy to detach if you don’t get a job. And so it was that little bit more special because I really really wanted it! It was a great moment actually, especially in lockdown.
How has it been working together as a cast on tour?
Oh, the cast is incredible. They’re just amazing and we’re like a little family, especially travelling around together on tour. It’s just great to be on stage with every single one of them. I can’t wait to perform in Cardiff – I’ve been once before, but I didn’t really get to see much of the city. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got a lot of friends in Cardiff so I’m hoping to be able to catch up with them as well.
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What’s great about Heathers is that the older generation is going to know the film, and there’s a younger fanbase now that knows the musical – so it kind of spans the two.
Yeah, it’s great – it captures both audiences. It’s a really funny show which deals with some really dark themes and issues as well; this was written in the 80s but the themes of the show couldn’t be more relevant today. In fact, I would say they’re probably more relevant today than when it was written.
Heathers The Musical, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Tue 30 Nov-Sat 4 Dec. Tickets: £17.50-£42.50.
words SARAH BOWDIDGE
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