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Review

Heathers: The Musical
by Greasepaint Youtheatre
 

THE SHOW:  

Based on the 1988 cult movie hit starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, and transformed into a rock musical by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy in 2013, this dark satire of high school life asked us, “What’s your damage?” and suggested new, but not recommended, uses for chainsaws.  

The story follows the socially awkward Veronica, an expert forger, who manages to get accepted into “The Lip Gloss Gestapo.” That’s the school’s ultimate power clique of the three Heathers: Heather Chandler (red), Heather McNamara (yellow), and Heather Duke (green). But the price of acceptance may be Veronica’s soul. Not to mention the bodies of fellow classmates when Veronica and her new boyfriend, the philosophical JD, begin to clash with the mean girls and dumb jocks who rule the school. Peer pressure, date rape, bullying, murder, child abuse, profanity, school violence, sex, suicide, and how much words can hurt – students try to deal with it all at Westerburg High School in Sherwood, Ohio, which may as well be any high school, in this brilliantly unique musical that is both horrifying and hilarious. Usually at the same time.

 

THE PRODUCTION:  

Thanks to some requests by their leadership and letters from their students, Greasepaint Youtheatre became the first youth theater group to be granted permission to perform Heathers: The Musical. And the high school kids playing high school kids made the most of it with two separate casts putting on stellar productions. Direction by Maureen Dias doesn’t hold back and displays a knack for getting the most out of both humor and pain, while choreography from Emily Starrett is electrifying and amusing.  

Tatumn Zale and Alyssa Gonzalez are dynamite as Veronica – awkward as a natural dork trying to fit in, on fire in Dead Girl Walking, and touching in Seventeen as Veronica tries to find her way back from the edge of hell to a happier norm of youth. Ian Biggane and Nathan Sheppard are their respective JDs, both fantastic and edgy as would-be heroes to the underdogs, damaged by pain at home and at various schools, finding solace in brain freezes, the inspiration of Veronica, and a dream for utopia.

The Heathers both inspire dreams among their classmates and destroy them. A domineering Cami Benton and fierce Johnna Watson command the stage as alpha female Heather Chandler who lords over their friends and enemies with steely confidence, only briefly revealing weakness and insecurity, while also nailing their icy comedy as characters you love to hate. Gabby Vatistas and Greer Tornquist deliver amazing performances as green Heather Duke, transforming from Chandler’s punching bag to eager media sensation to power trip. While Barrette Janney and Katie Rodin shine as the most lovable Heather, yellow Heather McNamara, at once powerfully vulnerable and powerfully funny in Lifeboat and the song’s immediate aftermath.

 

The comedy duo of dumb jocks, with Nicholas Hambruch as Ram and Clay Rollon and Ian Eller sharing the role of Kurt, create belly laughs throughout including an ingeniously choreographed and performed slow-motion fight with JD, an ode to their frustrations of feeling Blue, and their understated protests to being defeated.  Andrey Lull and Jack Rose team up to lead the cast in the unforgettable My Dead Gay Son eulogy that transforms from religious revival to disco revival. A delightfully sappy Bailey Smith and determined healer Becca Bauer try to mend the student body by sharing a one-of-a-kind suicide note, leading a comically uplifting Shine A Light pep rally, and making classic inane observations such as, “whether to kill yourself is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.” Breagh Watson and Sophia Drapeau beautifully play the nice girl outcast Martha, crushing our hearts with the poignant Kindergarten Boyfriend.

 

And you get many of the best moments when you get the entire cast together, whether it just be interactions and reactions from the various students, or it’s one of the big group numbers including the three Heathers leading Candy Store, the house party in Big Fun, or the Seventeen finale. You won’t want to miss this remarkable group of seventeen and eighteen year olds digging deep to confront some of our most serious issues with combinations of outrageousness and reality, of heart and dark humor, delivering a singular musical theatre experience. 

Performed February 19 - March 6, 2016

Photos by Laura Durant

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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~ RED CAST ~
VERONICA: Alyssa Gonzalez
HEATHER CHANDLER: Johnna Watson
HEATHER DUKE: Greer Tornquist
HEATHER MACNAMARA: Katie Rodin
JD: Nathan Sheppard
RAM: Nicholas Hambruch
KURT: Ian Eller
MARTHA: Sophia Drapeau
KURT'S DAD/PRINCIPAL GOWAN: Jack Rose
RAM'S DAD/COACH: Andrey Lull
MRS. FLEMING: Becca Bauer
BIG BUD: Matthew Villareal
ENSEMBLE ROLES:
Stokley Berg
Griffin Fletcher
Elias Sabbagh
Emma Sucato
Molly Joseph
Allison Steward
Darian Lorrain

~ BLUE CAST ~
VERONICA: Tatumn Zale
HEATHER CHANDLER: Cami Benton
HEATHER DUKE: Gabby Vatistas
HEATHER MAC: Barrette Janney
JD: Ian Biggane
RAM: Nicholas Hambruch
KURT: Clay Rollon
MARTHA: Breagh Watson
KURT'S DAD/PRINCIPAL GOWAN: Jack Rose
RAM'S DAD/ COACH: Andrey Lull
MRS. FLEMING: Bailey Smith
BIG BUD: Matthew Villareal
ENSEMBLE ROLES:
Hank Woods
Liam Thibeault
Ellee Deghetto
Julian Mendoza
Daniel Weinberger
Taylor Penn
Ally Chisenski
Vaibhavi Mohan

 

Director: Maureen Dias
Musical Director & Conductor: Curtis Moeller
Choreographer: Emily Starrett
Stage Manager: April Rozier and Rebecca Courtney
Set Designer: Chase Budden and Pete Bish
Lighting Designer: Stacy Walston
Sound Designer: Pete Bish
Props Designer: Maria Amorocho

 

 

 

 

 


   

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