Fickman spearheads stage version of cult hit

Get ready for "Heathers: The Musical." The influential 1988 teen dark comedy, which launched the careers of Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and scribe Dan Waters, is stagebound in a production being developed by Andy Fickman, director of "Race to Witch Mountain," who is making a return to his musical roots.

Fickman, who helmed the musical "Reefer Madness," is working with "Reefer" partner Kevin Murphy, who is writing the "Heathers" lyrics and the book, and composer Larry O'Keefe, who earned a Tony nomination for best score for the Broadway version of "Legally Blonde."

The trio has worked on the production under the radar for some time, even doing readings this week in Endeavor's screening room. The readings saw "Veronica Mars" star Kristen Bell playing the lead and Christian Campbell as J.D., with Jenna Leigh Green ("Wicked"), BrokeDown Cadillac lead singer Corri English and Christine Lakin (the CW's "Valentine") as the three Heathers.

The actors doing the reading will not necessarily do the musical; that depends on their availability when the play is mounted.

Andy Cohen, J. Todd Harris and Amy Powers are producing with Fickman, Murphy and O'Keefe.

Denise Di Novi, who produced the movie, is executive producing the musical. Lakeshore Entertainment also is creatively involved.

The project has the blessing of Waters, who controls the underlying rights to the material. Fickman said he sat down with Waters early on "to make sure we were on the same page" and that Waters has seen the readings.

"He understood that our goals were to be creatively attuned to his original work," said Fickman, who is repped by Endeavor and Evolution.

The film offered many over-the-top moments as well as choice lines, something Fickman is eager to bring out musically.

" 'I love my dead gay son,' " Fickman quoted. "If you can get that into a song, then that is just perfect."

The creative team hopes to have a fully mounted regional production ready for 2010, followed ideally by a Broadway run. The next step would see the stage show adapted for the big screen — the way John Waters' 1988 film "Hairspray" became a Broadway musical that was adapted into a hit movie musical. (partialdiff)