“Heathers: The Musical” opened to a full and lively audience on Friday at UNCG. Directed by Virginia Hirsch, who is currently earning her MFA for Directing at UNCG, “Heathers: The Musical” is the culmination of Hirsch’s thesis project. Although the musical is considered a cult classic, its story is far from ancient. In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, it seems only appropriate to go see a show like “Heathers” that deals with bullying, violence and tolerance.
The show starts with a disgruntled Veronica Sawyer who is lamenting the brutal social hierarchy of high school. Her best friend, Martha Dunnstock, is constantly bullied for her weight, being called the nickname Martha “Dumptruck.” Veronica, dissatisfied with her life at the bottom of the social food chain, longs to join the popular girls known as the Heathers. The girls, all with the first name Heather, rule the school and Veronica joins their ranks by showing them how well she can forge a hall pass and offering her services for the Heathers use. Although this means dumping her “Dumptruck” friend.
Veronica quickly becomes popular because of her affiliation with the Heathers, which happens after the audience is introduced to J.D. – a moody and dark teenage boy who is the new kid at school. Veronica immediately becomes smitten with him. Although she enjoys being popular, she starts to feel uneasy about the way the Heathers treat Martha.
This musical deals with a ton of present issues, not only in teens lives, but also many others, and resonates with anyone who has gone through high school. There are many bullies featured in “Heathers,” displaying the repercussions of constant bullying through Martha who attempts suicide by jumping off a bridge. Perhaps one of the more disturbing outcomes of bullying is J.D., who is a reject convinced he can better the world by riding the world of bullies. The death of the lead Heather provokes J.D. to continue by murdering other school bullies like the stock jock bullies, Kurt and Ram. To J.D., it is appropriate to cleanse the world of all the bullies in order to make the world a better place. Tensions build as Veronica cautions him against it.
This production had all the colors and flair of the ‘80s with the depth and gossip of a teen drama. Each costume worn by the actors has a unique design to exemplify what clique they are associated with. The jocks wear their letterman jackets of course and each Heather has a specific color. The Lead Heather wears red, and after her death, the red scrunchie she wears becomes a symbol of power that the other Heathers covet. The lead Heather was also often bathed in red light while she is on stage, exemplifying the passionate and sensual nature of the character.
While the musical explores a lot of dark themes, it manages to feature many comedic moments. This musical brings up a lot relating to bullying and mental illness. J.D. is unstable and unable to deal with his problems because his mom killed herself right in front of him, all while his father is aggressive and cruel. This production did an excellent job of mixing comedy with drama, giving justice to the dark subject matter, while also giving the audience a time to relax and just enjoy some lively and entertaining singing and dancing.
The musical runs until Feb. 24, with performances beginning at 7:30 p.m at the UNCG Taylor Theatre. There are $8 student tickets available, and with that price, it is well worth it to see this powerful and thought-provoking performance.