Heathers: The Musical swept the English-speaking musical world. After touring Los Angeles and New York, the theatrical musical crossed the pond to London, where it found a whole new fanbase. Based on the movie Heathersreleased in the 1980s, Heathers: The Musical combines darker subject matter with comedy, as well as real and relevant issues facing young people. With great performances, it is not to be missed. The beloved musical will find a new home on the Roku streaming platform, where it will be available to stream for free on September 16, 2022.
MovieWeb caught up with the director of Heathers: The Musical, Andy Fickmanto discuss production.
Here from the very beginning
MovieWeb: How did you initially get involved with this project?
Andy Fickman: In 2005 I released a movie based on a musical called Freezing madness!, it happened at Showtime and Sundance. My partner on this, Kevin Murphy, and I had been approached to see if we would be interested in filming Heathers in a musical. Kevin and I sat down, talked, and went to see a longtime friend of ours, Larry O’Keefe, who we were looking to partner with. From that point on, we were able to sit down with Dan Waters, who wrote the original film, and Michael Lehmann, who directed Heathersand Denise Di Novi, who produced it.
MovieWeb: you worked on Heathers: The Musical since its origin in Los Angeles. How has it changed and evolved over the different productions?
Andy Fickman: In LA, we did a lot of development reading first. So we made changes during these readings, new songs, new ways of telling the story. When we arrived at the Los Angeles race, we felt pretty good and had new things. By the time we went to New York, very shortly after the race in Los Angeles, we made some changes. We came, made our album in New York, had our amateur rights available, and then all of a sudden we got a call from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theater, The Other Palace. They said, “How about you come to London? Then we came to London, and by the time we opened the show in 2018, we had made some significant changes. We added songs, changed “Blue”, tightened the book and worked on scenes. A lot has changed since we started looking at a blank page.
FilmWeb: Heathers is a rather dark and heavy musical comedy. What were the challenges in making the script?
We loved the movie, so we didn’t want to change the movie. Our challenge was that we wanted to end slightly differently, with a bit of hope and redemption, and Dan Waters agreed with that. As we find our balance, working with actors, my challenge has always been how far we can tip in this darkness and when do you start tipping. For some characters [it doesn’t work] if you leave too early.
A dedicated fanbase
MovieWeb: What did you enjoy most about your job? Heathers: The Musical?
Andy Fickman: What I like the most are the fans, which we call corn nuts. That’s what I love the most: how it touched people’s lives. It has become part of their world. We have fans in the UK who have seen it thirty, forty times. We become friends with them. In the same way, it has sometimes helped people emotionally. That was the biggest part of the trip.
MovieWeb: Did you expect such a reaction originally?
Andy Fickman: We bet badly. We thought when we started in the United States, Heathers the movie wasn’t big or popular, it was a cult movie, so we thought the audience was older people who remembered the 80s and had nostalgia. That’s what we thought. We have these people, then all of a sudden we see teenagers in disguise. Now it’s their show. It’s so much their show, and I wish I could say we planned it, but none of it happened.
MovieWeb: There has been tremendous success with shooting theatrical musicals like movies and putting them on streaming platforms in recent years. What do you think about this?
Andy Fickman: Filming theater was bad for a very long time. You can really integrate it and make it an exciting adventure. We wanted to include the public in ours. We wanted people to feel what it was like to see our show. I look forward to more opportunities, but I never want this to feel like a substitute for going in and seeing the show. Come from afar [on Apple TV+] is a great example, it feels like you’re there and it’s so moving.
MovieWeb: Finally: what’s next for you?
Andy Fickman: A true love, which will star Phillipa Soo and Simu Liu, will be released early next year. I’m working on a new musical based on the movie Thirteen passes thirty and expand outside the UK. The original people who wrote the movie are writing the book. I’m very excited about this.