The Dublin Shield

Heathers at Las Positas: What’s Their Damage? Quite a Lot.

Photograph courtesy of a Heathers Off-Broadway production's distributors.

Photograph courtesy of a Heathers Off-Broadway production's distributors.

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In the world of drama, there are comedies, there are tragedies, and there is Heathers: The Musical. Not quite one or the other, this (very) black comedy doesn’t hesitate to toe (and cross) the line of political correctness, and it certainly doesn’t shy away from tough topics. Still, this high-school-comedy-gone-wrong manages to be incredibly hilarious as it sings its heart out about murder, suicide, and the sweet, numb relief of a 7-Eleven slushie.

Originally created by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe as a Broadway show adapted from the 1988 Michael Lehmann film of the same name, Heathers was recently performed by Las Positas College Performing Arts. Directed by Titian Lish, it would be more than accurate to say that it was, if nothing else, a wild ride. Heathers follows the story of Veronica Sawyer, a popular high-schooler who harbors a burning hatred for her three fellow members of the most popular clique in the school: Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara. She meets trouble in the form of the new kid, J.D., whose quirky tendencies begin to border on psychotic. Things just go downhill from there, culminating in accidental murders, staged suicides, and a very real explosive, all of which are accompanied by rock songs boasting various levels of frenzy and fear.

The actors of the musical played the roles of damaged high school students quite well. Veronica Sawyer’s actress portrayed the character very well as she was faced with her supposed friends, the Heathers, her supposed boyfriend, Jason Dean (JD for short), and her supposed conscience, which she proved she had at the end of the musical. Heather Chandler the almighty, queen of scrunchies and high school, was portrayed extremely well and seemed more human than she did in the original movie. She was bratty, rude, and, as high school goes, inexplicably worshipped by everyone. Heather Duke, even worse than Chandler, was kind at first but quickly turned evil in the absence of Heather Chandler. Heather McNamara was the kindest Heather from beginning to end. She was bullied when she was contemplating suicide and admitted her thoughts on television. She was adequately played, and arguably, the most well-rounded Heather. J.D. played a seventeen-year-old all the way down to the voice cracks. Nevertheless, his acting was added to the story. J.D. was extremely troubled as a result of his mother’s death, which was caused by his father. The student ensemble was composed of amazing singers who had good harmonization and great acting.

The songs in the musical are extremely catchy. While they get stuck in your head, they still manage to accurately portray the views of high school students. There was a variety of songs, sung by different characters, ranging from J.D. singing a song about slushies to the Heathers singing a song about their candy store. The songs were wonderfully performed and made the musical fun and exciting. The only problem, if anything, was that the sheer volume of the live music made it difficult at times to hear the lyrics.

This musical is definitely not for kids (or the easily offended). The musical discusses mature topics and uses quite a bit of explicit language. Though extremely entertaining, this musical is, according to the poster, “like totally not for kids.”

It’s worth noting that part of the delightfulness of Heathers lies in just how wrong it feels. In these troubled times, it is almost uncomfortable to find yourself laughing as J.D. threatens to shoot yet another classmate – but you’ll laugh all the same. The dark undertones of Heathers are intertwined seamlessly with humor and satire that it’s almost difficult to distinguish the two, making for a truly unique viewing experience. The characters are simultaneously absurdly outlandish and innately relatable.      

Heathers is, if nothing else, an experience. Where else will you find high schoolers lamenting the intricacies of life by singing about slushies as they kill each other? Nowhere. And the uniqueness of Heathers is precisely what makes it so memorable.

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