Lucy Maunder on Heathers and all things 80s

Heathers: The Musical, based on the 80s cult classic film of the same name, premiered Off Broadway in 2014 to critical acclaim and even garnered an enthusiastic following of its own. The Hayes Theatre, the current hub of Sydney’s independent musical theatre revolution, will be home to the Australian premiere of Heathers starting from July 16.

Lucy Maunder Morning Melodies
Lucy Maunder

Directed by Trevor Ashley, with choreography by Cameron Mitchell and musical direction by Bev Kennedy, and with an all star cast led by Jaz Flowers as Veronica and Lucy Maunder as Heather Chandler, this show is sure to be a success. We chatted with Lucy Maunder, after her first day of rehearsals about the film, the dark humour and rock music of the show, and all things 80s.

Had you seen the film prior to knowing about the musical?

“I had seen the film years ago, but it wasn’t particularly on my radar. But when I was doing Dr Zhivago, the lyricist, Amy Powers, and her husband, were co-producers of the Broadway production of Heathers and she mentioned it to me then that it was in the workshop stages. And I remember her telling me to keep my eye on it. But I didn’t really know the movie, it wasn’t a cult classic favourite of mine.”

How did Powers respond when you got the role?

“She was so excited when I told her that I was doing it here! And it’s amazing because it’s the first production that’s been done since Broadway.”

Now that you are more familiar with the film, what do you think of it?

“The movie is just bizarre and hilarious. It’s so off centre in terms of the dialogue and how everything is shot. It’s very tongue in cheek and funny but in a black humour way. It’s over the top and camp. I’m sure the musical is going to be like that as well. We had a big costume fitting today and it’s shoulder pads galore – I’m so excited.”

How do you think the darker issues explored in the piece are relevant to teenagers today?

“Westerburg High in Heathers is really a quintessential co-ed high school. There’s no question that fitting in and the differentiation between groups is really prevalent in high school today. Heathers gives a heightened sense of that. But there’s definitely a part of that in high school today. The suicide issue and peer pressure are all issues that unfortunately are very relevant, and they’re timeless issues. It’s human nature, and teenagers are pretty vile at times, especially girls. Finding yourself is what you’re trying to do all through your teenage years. At least the good characters triumph in this show. The Heathers are just these monsters. My character is absolutely, relentlessly awful. I hope I was never in a group like that!”

Lucy Maunder in Songs in the Key of Black.
Lucy Maunder in Songs in the Key of Black.

What’s your favourite song from the show?

“The score is so wonderful. I’ve been listening to it from start to finish on repeat since I found out I was in the show. The epic 8-minute opening, ‘Beautiful’ is fantastic. It’s an incredible way to set up all the characters and their relationships. It’s really fluid, I love the music in that and the rock element about it. Obviously, ‘Candy Store’ is a pretty rocking song. It is very much the encapsulation of the Heathers. I love it musically; it’s a really fun one to sing.

My favourite song in terms of the melody and harmonies, is ‘Seventeen’ sung by Veronica (Jaz Flowers) and JD (Steve Madsen), it’s basically a song where they’ve just killed 3 people sort of by accident and sort of not. They find themselves in this horrible situation and not knowing what to do. And they sing this duet about just wanting to be seventeen. It’s an incredible song – I love it! I just think they’re amazing writers [Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe].”

How are you feeling about rehearsals?

 “I’m very excited. We had a whole day of music today and everyone’s so on top of it. It’s already sounding fantastic. There’s a lot of buzz around the show and everyone’s so excited to be in it, for it to be the Australian premiere and all of that stuff. It’s hilarious, the show is very funny and there are some outrageous lyrics. We just laughed all day long! “

Some quick 80s themed questions:

Favourite song from the 80s?

“I’m a huge fan of anything Bon Jovi. ‘Bad Medicine’ by Bon Jovi is probably one of my favourites.”

 Favourite 80s fashion fad?

“Anything with shoulder pads, I’m obsessed with them.”

Lucy Maunder and the Australian Cast of Grease. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Lucy Maunder and the Australian Cast of Grease. Photo by Jeff Busby.

80s Trend you want to bring back to life?

 I’ve got the curliest hair in the history of the world. A resurgence of huge hair would be really convenient for me and I love the hairstyles of the 80s.”

Why should audiences come and see Heathers?

“Audiences should come and see this show because it’s a fantastic parody comment of the 80s, it’s an amazing rock musical with a hilarious script and some incredible singing.

“And to support theatre at the Hayes which has done such important and wonderful things for the theatre industry particularly in Sydney but also nationally. It’s an honour to be doing a show there because what they’ve created there is really special.”

Catch Heathers the Musical at Hayes Theatre Co – open now until 9 August 2015. For tickets and more information, visit hayestheatre.com.au.

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Author

Bec has a diploma in musical theatre and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. She is a freelance theatre writer in Sydney.

Bec has written 90 articles on AussieTheatre | Read more articles by