Cult classic Heathers takes the stage

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By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer

Campus theater group 20 Cent Fiction recently presented their version of Heathers: The Musical. The musical is based of the 1988 cult classic movie Heathers, it was adapted for the stage with original songs written by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, the development began in 2010. The play, like the movie, became very popular and had successful runs in Los Angeles and Off Broadway at New World Stages.

There were four showings of UMass Dartmouth’s production of Heathers, running the 16-19 of November. It appeared to be a hit, with the showings being well attended.

Beware below of spoilers for a nearly 30-year-old movie in a synopsis of the plot.

The musical starred first year Allyson Andrade as Veronica Sawyer, the protagonist who is just trying to fit in among a school of bullies. In order to accomplish this, Veronica joins the clique of the three Heathers, for whom the play is named.

Heather Chandler was played by sophomore political science major Kenzi Farland, with Heather McNamara played by sophomore psychology major Brooke Aubin, and Heather Duke played by senior biology major Lisa Bontemps.

Veronica and the Heathers end up having a falling out, which causes Veronica to seek out new-to-town bad-boy/loner Jason “J.D.” Dean, played by sophomore marketing major Tyler Rebello. J.D. and Veronica start up some active romance before going to Heather Chandler’s house to try to get back into her good graces.

They end up sort of accidentally killing her. This, combined with J.D.’s deliberate murder of two jocks, Kurt Kelly (Dennis Fox, sophomore graphic design) and Ram Sweeney (Lyndon Davis junior bioengineering), begins the couple’s disagreement over whether people should really just be murdered if they are mean.

Ironically, in death the bullies are looked upon favorably by their surviving peers. That is due to J.D. and Veronica, who frame their deaths as suicides. Also, everyone who dies comes back as a ghost to taunt Veronica.

Veronica then causes her longtime friend who she deserted in the beginning to join the Heathers, Martha Dunnstock/Dumptruck (Jean Lyon), to try to kill herself. This is a kind of wake-up call after which Veronica realizes she is part of the system of bullies.

After trying to make things right with her peers, apologizing to Martha Dunnstock and preventing Heather McNamara’s suicide, Veronica decides to break things off with J.D.

He doesn’t take this well, and decides to blow up the school during an assembly in the gym, after sneakily managing to get everyone to sign a suicide pact.

Eventually, Veronica prevents J.D. from going through with his plan, but J.D. ends up dead.

For some reason he holds the bomb instead of Veronica doing so, and it goes off in his hands. Why he does not just get to a safe distance like Veronica does is a mystery, but a sort of amusing one, not one that detracts from the experience.

The musical, and the movie, are a dark satire that attempts to probe the depths of issues faced by high schoolers then and now.

Its handling of bullying, abuse, mental health, and the social stigmas that surround and sometimes define the experience of adolescence are what has kept it popular throughout the years.

The performance was well done. Allyson Andrade and Tyler Rebello had some especially great scenes and songs together.

I particularly enjoyed the performance of Dennis Fox and Lyndon Davis together.

It was an altogether entertaining musical, full of adult themes and plot twists.

Photo Courtesy: Benjamin Solomon

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