Heathers (2015)

book, music, and lyrics by
Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy
based on the film by Daniel Waters
October 1-24, 2015
Marcelle Theater
Show Webpage
Production Photos

Veronica Sawyer – Anna Skidis
J.D. – Evan Fornachon
Heather Chandler – Sicily Mathenia
Heather Duke – Cameisha Cotton
Heather McNamara – Larissa White
Martha Dunnstock – Grace Seidel
Ram Sweeney – Omega Jones
Kurt Kelly – Clayton Humburg
Young Republicanette – Brenda Bass
Preppy Stud – Kevin Corpus
Hipster Dork – Colin Dowd
Beleaguered Geek – Alex Glow
Kurt’s Dad/Veronica’s Dad/Principal Gowan – Joel Hackbarth
Ms. Fleming/Veronica’s Mom – Lindsey Jones
Ram’s Dad/Big Bud Dean/Coach Ripper – Chris Kernan
Stoner Chick – Victoria Valentine

Conductor/Piano – Sue Goldford
Guitar – D. Mike Bauer
Bass – Andrew Gurney
Violin – Twinda Murry
Percussion – Clancy Newell
Reeds – Harrison Rich
Trumpet – Patrick Swan

Directors – Scott Miller, Mike Dowdy
Directing Intern – Jeremy Hyatt
Music Director – Jeffrey Richard Carter
Choreographer – Robin Michelle Berger
Stage Manager/Lighting Technician – Gabe Taylor
Scenic Designer – Rob Lippert
Costume Designer – Sarah Porter
Sound Designer – Benjamin Rosemann
Lighting Designer – Kenneth Zinkl
Props Master – Kimi Short
Scenic Artists – Kathleen Dwyer, Melanie Kozak, Gary Karasek, Kate Wilkerson
Box Office Manager – Kimi Short
Volunteer Coordinator – Alison Helmer
Videographer – Kyle Jeffery Studios
Graphic Designer – Matt Reedy
Photographer – Jill Ritter Lindberg

“Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy's witty, and at times beautiful, show goes deeper into the mindset of heartthrob killer J.D. than the film does. The original's dark and subversive edge is still present – hoo-boy, is it present – but there is also a tenderness that wasn't really possible in Reagan's America. In New Line Theatre's production (the show's regional premiere), directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy nurture that tenderness without shying away from the darkness. The result is a show that is sharp and unflinchingly honest in its depiction of high school killers, even with the remove afforded by satire. It is as entertaining as it is terrifying.” – Paul Friswold, The Riverfront Times

“Now you can see Heathers in all its pitch black glory with New Line Theatre's amazing production, which opens their 25th season. Not only is it a fantastic and edgy show, but it also marks their first presentation in their new venue, the Marcelle Theater (lovingly designed by Rob Lippert). This is a dazzling and intense show that features a smartly crafted book and score, courtesy of Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, as well as an excellent cast and expert direction. This is beyond must-see entertainment. This is an accomplishment you absolutely have to check out. You'll be dazzled by its brilliance, and completely floored by the wonderful performances you'll be witness to.” – Chris Gibson, BroadwayWorld

“A racy rock score drives 120 mph into the dark, libidinous story with a narrative intelligence reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan on coke. This deeply disturbing story of bullying and the pressures of forced teen adulthood unfolds with truth and consequences, authentic sadness, and eventually, more hope than the movie was ever able to muster. . . This quirky, seductive rock operetta, with satiric teeth, tasteful tongue-and-cheek titillation and societal timeliness, is performed with musical intelligence and dramatic enthusiasm by a robust cast, many of whom seemed fresh and new to St. Louis.” – Chris Limber, Buzz On Stage

“It is an overwhelming experience—admirably put forth, but ruthlessly intense in the final twenty minutes or so. . . In the upside-down world of teenagers, where belonging is more important than almost anything else, the wicked girls' entrance is greeted with a heavenly choir of harmonies from the rest of the ensemble. Their overall musicianship, and the various forms of artistry that blossom throughout this Heathers, may be the greatest achievement of all. . . a rarely produced show that's challenging, lovingly produced and bitchy fun, as fans of New Line Theatre have come to expect.” – Richard Green, TalkinBroadway

“New Line Theatre kicks off its season, the first at their new home in the smartly renovated Marcelle Theater on the east end of Grand Center, with a bang. A little poison and a big bomb are also included in the dark comedy, but it's the heart, and a prescient message about teen isolation, mental health and violence, that may stay with audiences. . . The most surprising aspect of New Line Theatre's excellent production of Heathers may in fact be the insidious way the show cheerfully turns from dark humor to intense pathos – the story is affecting and the storytelling completely effective. The result is a spectacular production, with a breakout performance by Anna Skidis, that celebrates the company's 25th anniversary and new home.” – Tina Farmer, KDHX

“In New Line Theatre’s bold regional premiere, a fearless cast and crew is able to achieve a balance in tone that transcends vulgar lyrics and shock-value scenarios. . . co-directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy frame this jagged little pill in Reagan-Era Me Decade ephemera and infuse the characters with plenty of attitude. They understand that in order for the dark material to mean more than a typical coming-of-age flashback, the characters can’t be caricatures, and consciously steer away from camp. That gives the youngsters more emotional depth than initially drawn, resulting in dynamic performances and a show that doesn’t only entertain. The pair have harmoniously collaborated on a number of neglected musicals that needed New Line’s nurturing to thrive, and with their astonishing attention to detail, polish Heathers into a bright-colored gem. . . it’s indeed one of the standouts of the year.” – Lynn Venhaus, Belleville News-Democrat

Heathers The Musical is an amazing way to kick off New Line Theatre’s 25th season. Once again, they’ve taken a diamond in the rough and polished it into a magnificent gem for the audience to behold. The show is packed with serious topics and thought provoking subject matter, but also manages to provide us with laughs and plenty of catchy tunes. The entire cast is overflowing with talent, ne’er a weak point to be found. This is one show that you do not want to miss while you have the chance.” – Kevin Brackett, ReviewSTL

“With sparkling performances by Anna Skidis and Evan Fornachon in the primary roles of Veronica and J.D., New Line’s Heathers continues the company’s rich history of bringing challenging musical theater to St. Louis audiences. . . Heathers is a good production of an offbeat little musical that typifies New Line Theatre’s strength: Offering a new look at established works or an introduction to little-seen gems that are revived with Miller’s innate insight.” – Mark Bretz Ladue News

“New Line Theatre kicks off its 25th anniversary in its new space at the Marcelle Theater with the premiere of the wickedly morbid and hysterical musical Heathers. Based on the 1989 cult film of the same name, this show has all the elements that theater-goers have come to expect from artistic director, Scott Miller: provocative themes, pathos, dynamic performances from its cast, and a cheeky sense of fun. . . Heathers is hysterically funny and outrageous and is a strong indicator that although the venue for New Line Theater has changed, its vision of entertaining and challenging audiences remains the same.” – Donald Miller, Alton Telegraph

“On Friday night, New Line Theatre celebrated its 25th anniversary in ideal fashion: It opened a smart new show, Heathers, in its sleek new theater, the Marcelle. . . Heathers – a hideous and hilarious musical inspired by the 1989 cult movie of the same name – continues New Line’s long look at kids in some kind of trouble: emotional, social, political, sexual. In shows such as Hair, Grease, bare, Passing Strange, Cry-Baby and Rent, New Line has explored musicals about teens and young adults trying to figure out how, or even why, to live.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“New Line’s anniversary kicks off with what they do best – providing hilarious, daring, sometimes unsettling, but always unflinching, insightful looks at the world we live in, and those on the fringes. Go see it.”—Andrea Torrence, St. Louis Theatre Snob

“Tightly directed by Miller and Mike Dowdy, and interlaced with choreographer Robin Michelle Berger's work, it fits together like Lycra. Scenic design by Rob Lippert and costumes from Sarah Porter make it feel pretty authentic. Very funny despite some of the subject matter, it's a great opening show, well crafted and well cast, for the brand-new Marcelle Theater.” – Ann Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks

“It’s a dark, sometimes brutal show, but with a surprisingly hopeful ending, and it takes the high school movie genre and examines it in intriguing ways. It’s a spectacular production, highlighting the always excellent singing that New Line is known for, as well as some strong characterization and a great use of New Line’s new theatre space. Heathers the Musical is a hit.” – Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts

“If Heathers makes you squirm a little, that’s good – it means they’re doing it right. . . Yes, Heathers – movie and musical alike – are shocking. They’re also cautionary tales about conformity, and morality plays about doing the right thing even if it makes you less popular. . . In many ways Heathers is more relevant now than it was in the late 80s.” – Jeff Ritter, Critical Blast

Heathers is quite a feather is New Line’s cap.” – Gerry Kowarsky, Two on the Aisle

Heathers is about selfishness, and the moral and emotional damage that come from it, maybe the inevitable result of the 1980s Me-First Reagan Revolution, a reaction to the turmoil and cultural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s. If the hippies believed in community, then community must be suspect. If the hippies condemned greed, then greed must be good.

Heathers is about the breakdown of institutions in 1980s America – the family, the community, the government, the educational system – as Reagan convinced many Americans to distrust our institutions, as he successfully turned government into a dirty word. Americans had always believed that We the People are the government, but Reagan changed that, portraying our system of government – our collective act of democratic self-governance – as a massive, scary giant who’s out to get us, in the process all but severing the sacred connection between The People are their government.

With no trust in our government, no trust in community, and a growing suspicion of The Other, Reagan turned individualism into a cult and delegitimized the responsibility to community that had always been such a cornerstone of American life. The myth of “rugged individualism” that played such a role in the settling of our continent was revived and deified, partly in response to the communalism of the 60s and the universal distrust Reagan nurtured in his followers.

Can we blame the kids in Heathers for being self-centered? Look at the world surrounding them, clueless teachers, ineffectual and/or absent parents, no role models, no responsibility to others, no empathy. This is the world J.D. wants to destroy, a cold, callous, selfish time and place that could produce the Heathers.

Most teen comedies are about conforming. If the lead character is unable to conform, they have to be “removed” from the community. But in Grease, Cry-Baby, and Heathers, it works in the opposite direction. In these stories, the protagonist goes from insider to outsider; but also at the same time, from outsider to insider, because both Grease and Cry-Baby present two conflicting communities. In Heathers, Veronica goes from outsider to insider, and then back to outsider again. Because in the world of Westerberg High, it turns out that being an outsider is way better than being an insider.

In the conforming 80s, much of our storytelling was about all this – to conform or not to conform – and after the turmoil of the 60s and 70s, many people were choosing conformity. Heathers is a cautionary tale about the dark side of “fitting in,” arguing that “fitting in” is an inherently selfish act. Veronica goes from being empathetic (which is the whole point of the first part of the opening number, “Beautiful”) to being callous and selfish, then finally back to empathetic again.

Today, as many in our culture continue to demonize The Other, Heathers is a blunt reminder to take care how we treat those Others…