Veronica (Maria Fallouh) is assessed by the Heathers, from left, Heather Chandler (Hailey Wright), Heather McNamara (Claire Oliver) and Heather Duke (Arden Moore). (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)

In Photos: "Heathers: The Musical" plays to sold-out audiences

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The musical based on the 1989 cult film favorite aimed to 'Shine a Light' on persistent social issues such as bullying, violence and body shaming

For five stiletto-sharp performances, the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Bowling Green State University Wolfe Center for the Arts was reimagined as Westerberg High, as a talented University cast and crew brought the darkly delicious "Heathers: The Musical" to life.

Directed by James Stover, the musical by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe is based on the 1989 cult film hit that starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. The BGSU Department of Theatre and Film iteration of the musical played to packed houses all weekend long, as the April 11-14 run was sold out.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, Westerberg High is ruled by a shoulder-padded, scrunchie-wearing junta: Heather McNamara, Heather Duke and Heather Chandler, the hottest and cruelest girls in all of Ohio. At Westerberg, popularity is a matter of life or death, and misfit Veronica is just another nobody dreaming of a better day.

When she's unexpectedly taken under the wings of the three beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers, her dreams of popularity finally start to come true. However, Veronica rejects their evil regime for a new boyfriend, the dark and sexy stranger J.D., who plans to put the Heathers in their place - six feet under.

Veronica (Maria Fallouh) is remade in the Heathers' image. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)
Veronica Sawyer (Maria Fallouh) talks with J.D. (Braden Evans) at a Seven-11. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)
Heathers cast members hold up pieces of paper and sing. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)

In his program notes, Stover reflected on his own small-town high school caste system and the lack of conversations on mental health and school violence. This aspect of the musical resonated with students, he said.

"When a group of my students began telling me why they were passionate about our department producing this show, they said it was because it could start conversations between the students about the issues the show tackles," he said. "Near the beginning of our rehearsal process, each student was tasked with researching a social issue addressed in this show. This led to important discussions amongst the cast about suicidal ideation, gun violence, sexual assault, body shaming and so much more."

Kurt (Logan May) has his arm pulled by J.D. (Braden Evans) during a fight. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)
Heather McNamara (Claire Oliver) and Heather Duke (Arden Moore) share the stage. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)
Martha (Liv Lutz) is Veronica's best friend and falls victim to bullying and betrayal. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)
Heather Chandler (Hailey Wright) glares at Veronica. (BGSU photo/Luke Allen)

"Our principal goal for this show is to encourage more of these conversations. We may be a more open society than we were 35 years ago, and certain behaviors we see in this show would be unacceptable in schools or even in public nowadays," Stover said. "However, we've also allowed new issues that in 1989 were a horror film and today are just a reality."

Veronica (Maria Fallouh) reacts to the demise of Heather Chandler (Hailey Wright) as J.D. (Braden Evans) looks on.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/16/2024 09:54AM