molly hager

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The cast of Heathers being adorable little shits at their final curtain call on August 4, 2014

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Candy Store: The Remix
Jessica Keenan Wynn ft. Rachel Flynn and Molly Hager

gabebert, heads up, new audio!  everyone else, if you’re downloading, please like this post; i want to keep track of how much interest there is in my audios to know if i should keep posting them (it’s a pain in the ass to upload so if no one’s listening, no point, etc).

so, heathers.  i was planning on including it in my summer-in-broadway roundup, but since i managed to see it twice, it deserves its own post.

i went in knowing NOTHING about it, save for some audio clips.  the ONLY reason i went was hearing cait fairbanks sing “dead girl walking” - and more on how much i love that song in a sec - and even knowing that the odds were low that i’d get to see her play veronica, i figured i’d like the show enough that it was worth the gamble (especially having heard so many great things about charissa; i figured i couldn’t lose).

i nearly shrieked out loud in the lobby when i saw cait fairbanks’s name on the board.  i had been SURE i would see charissa (then checked twitter a day or so later to see that the switch had been bit last-minute) and was excited to see her (and was a little disappointed thinking that i wouldn’t get the chance to see her - that’s the problem with shows where the entire cast is amazing; no matter who you’re excited to get to see, there’s another person you’re sad to miss.) but cait won my heart instantly, and i knew i was in for something special.

holy shit though.  i had no idea HOW amazing she was.  i don’t even think i have words, but i’ll try.

i wasn’t expecting layered, nuanced performances in this show - and largely, i didn’t get them, but i’ll talk about that later - but cait delivered one.  she was bristly, dry and sarcastic, spitting out her lines in a bitter near-monotone peppered with vicious mocking notes; but with a soft vulnerability in her eyes that never allowed her to slip into the realm of being unlikeable even when her veronica was at her nastiest and appearing to revel in it.  her confrontation with martha was painful to watch as her face went cold and she almost seemed to enjoy having this power to destroy her former best friend even while it was hurting her to do it.  i don’t think a lesser actress could have pulled that moment off and come back from it still likeable.  and it was that visible heart that allowed some moments to be genuinely emotional.  the frank terror rising on her face during the final part of our love is god made the song downright chilling, and her confrontation with heather m brought tears to my eyes. 

cait threw herself 1000% into each moment, and completely killed each song.  vocally she isn’t the strongest i’ve heard, but she sings well enough and heart is far more important than straight-up technical ability (which cait does have; it’s just not her biggest strength.)

my girlfriend listened to the recording after i mentioned to her that i thought the show was more her style than mine, and wanted to go (the power of bootlegs!), so i snagged a couple of tickets for last saturday.

in a slightly embarrassing moment, the lady at the reservations window recognized me - talked with her a bit while she was hunting down my tickets and she told me she’d seen someone come back 15 times to see the show.  you people are hardcore - it took me nearly a year to see matilda 20 times!

i was hoping by some miracle to see cait again, but charissa was our veronica that night.

i was excited but also pretty sure that i couldn’t love another veronica as much as i adored cait.  and to an extent i was right.  i do prefer cait.  but charissa hogeland was SO.  FREAKING.  CUTE.  just agonizingly, ridiculously adorable, aggressively dorky and terribly endearing.  her veronica was just so *sweet* and kindhearted.  where cait played it as a snarky outside observer, charissa was a straight-up nerd.  she got more laughs than cait did, and her voice is definitely stronger - her voice is GORGEOUS, powerful and lovely.  her sense of comedic timing is impeccable and she knows how to deliver a line for maximum impact. i didn’t sense the emotional journey i did with cait’s performance, but charissa was delightful. 

while i loved cait more, i think charissa is this show’s breakout star waiting to happen.  i wouldn’t be surprised to see a tony in her future.

the supporting cast was pretty good, though none of them made quite the impact the veronicas did.

i didn’t know quite what to make of dave thomas brown as jd, and i’m not sure if that was because of his performance or the way the character had been adapted for this show.  rather than a sociopathic parody of the “sexy bad boy,” he came off as an idiot stoner type who had long since broken with reality, but genuinely did care for veronica.  nothing wrong with it; i just love straight-up sociopath jd.  i hate to say this, because he is seriously one of the sweetest people i’ve ever met, but i wasn’t too impressed with him overall.  he was fine, but he was a little bland for me, and vocally he didn’t wow me either time.  but voice aside, i don’t know what was his acting and what was how the character had been written for this.  so i don’t really know what to say about him.

it was clear from the moment jessica keenan wynn stepped onstage that she’d been born to play heather chandler.  that strut, that face, that glorious evil expression.  she didn’t even have to open her mouth before she had me, and that’s exactly how the all-powerful heather chandler should be. 

elle mclemore is ridiculously cute and kristolyn lloyd has some impressive pipes, but again, i can’t tell if the choices i didn’t love are *theirs* or the director’s.  both of them largely came off as generic dumb bitch drones.  both characters could have had something resembling another layer or two, but they didn’t seem to be reaching for those.  i thought that was a little disappointing. 

jon eidson is the funniest idiot jock in the world.  unlike the heathers, kurt and ram have never had depth, and while i don’t generally laugh at straight-up stupidity, this guy had me in hysterics.  both daniel domenech and evan todd were very funny, but i’d say daniel had the comedic edge.  

katie ladner was a surprising bright light for me; she’s just adorable as martha, and her voice is fantastic.  i ended up seeing molly hager both times as veronica’s mom/mrs. fleming.  i’d been hoping to see her simply because i enjoy her twitter presence (silly reason but whatever) and my god, that woman is fucking hilarious.  both audiences loved her, and she got some of the biggest laughs of the show.  the entire ensemble is great - i particularly loved rachel flynn and lauren nicole cipoletti - and it was incredible to see anthony crivello live after admiring his work for so long.

overall, i liked the show.  the pacing was good, most of the songs were enjoyable - dead girl walking is one of the best songs i’ve heard in a LONG time, and our love is god is great as well - but i was a bit iffy on the tone and the humor.  it didn’t seem to know if it was staying in dark comedy territory like the film or moving into broader territory.  as a result, some of the jokes didn’t really land for me, and some of the deliveries felt really forced, like the actors felt the need to hammer home that they had just said something SUPER FUNNY SO PLEASE PAY ATTENTION.

the performances all around were a lot more even and entertaining the second time i went, and i’m definitely glad i went back.  i hadn’t been totally on board after the first show, but i think i just happened to catch a couple of people on a rough night, and with two main understudies on, there may have been a bit of awkwardness trying to find their footing with someone they’re not as used to working opposite in that particular capacity.  or i just needed more time to get used to the show. 

whatever complaints i may have had, if i were a numerical rating type person, i’d give heathers a solid four out of five and if we get a broadway run, i’ll be there - especially if cait is covering veronica.

as a reward for reading this, and in honor of closing night, here are my audios from last week.

7/28/14 (cait fairbanks, daniel domenech, molly hager):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bq6mqc1k9r3icu1/heathers-20140728-191455.mp3

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7cciubzk4vkf3ny/heathers-20140728-191455%20act%202.mp3

8/2/14 (full cast except molly hager as mrs. fleming/veronica’s mom):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7fmcuvi85vdqkrh/heathers82141.mp3

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kemojoiwibjsgh9/heathers82142.mp3

happy last show, all.  make it beautiful <3

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Cait Fairbanks, Molly Hager and the Heathers the musical cast “Children, Children” at 54 Below