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Off-Broadway Musical Review—Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless”


Book by Amy Heckerling; choreography by Kelly Devine; directed by Kristin Hanggi

Performances through January 12, 2019


Dove Cameron (left) as Cher in Clueless (photo: Monique Carboni)

Amy Heckerling wrote and directed the movie Clueless in 1995, a hip update of Jane Austen’s Emma—about a young woman who fixes up everyone around her but only belatedly discovers the perfect man for herself—which made a star out of Alicia Silverstone as high school senior Cher, she of the valley-girlisms (“as if”).


Now, in 2018, Heckerling has transformed Clueless into an amusing musical that—at least in this spry incarnation savvily directed by Kristin Hanggi and wittily choreographed by Kelly Devine—follows the movie closely enough for those who are content to see the movie played out onstage. Heckerling’s biggest musical conceit is to take a bunch of songs from that era (by the likes of the Spin Doctors, TLC, Des’ree and Crash Test Dummies) and give her characters new lyrics to sing. 


So when Cher finds out that Christian, the boy whom she has a crush on, only wants to be friends, NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” is sung as her friends taunt her with “Is he bi, bi, bi?” Obviously your mileage may vary on how annoying all this is—I hit the wall after about the third repurposed tune—but even those who get into it will admit that the repetitiveness is apparent long before Kim Wilde’s euphoric “Kids in America” wraps things up.


Befitting Devine’s exuberant choreographic moves, the ebullient cast is energetic throughout on Beowulf Boritt’s stylishly tongue-in-cheek sets. And superbly filling Silverstone’s shoes is Dove Cameron, a Disney Channel veteran who sings, dances and acts with a flair that makes the part of Cher all her own and makes Clueless anything but.



The New Group, Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, New York, NY

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