There are some moments in life that just stick with you – like, for example, the experience of being bullied in high school and the fantasy that you kill the people who bullied you. No? That’s not everyone?
While that might be extreme, it is part of the plot of Heathers: The Musical by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, based on the 1988 film Heathers. Heathers: The Musical runs March 30 – April 9 under Trevor Schmidt’s direction, closing out the Grant MacEwan University theatre season.
Trevor was honoured to be asked to guest direct MacEwan’s closing show of the season, “I’ve been hoping [to be invited to direct] for years so I was really excited when they did… I did a lot of musicals as a performer when I first got out of school and I directed a lot of musicals at Fringe for a number of years with a small company that I ran here in town called the Unconscious Collective but it’s been a long time since I got to do a big cast musical.”
While you might be used to Trevor’s work with Northern Light Theatre’s awesome solo shows and two-handers, Trevor was excited to direct this big cast musical that Edmonton audiences might not otherwise have the chance to see. “Grant MacEwan does some really interesting work. They pick really interesting, challenging musicals that are either great classic musicals from the past or really current musicals like Heathers. I think it’s an opportunity to see work you wouldn’t see on some of the main stages of the city.”
Trevor’s history with Heathers starts with the release of the film the play is based on. “I remember 1988 when the movie came out and it’s really truly a black comedy. It’s so dark, but it was really groundbreaking at the time, this idea of… these mean teenage girls and that everyone is an outsider in high school and this hilarious idea that is put forward – what if you could kill your high school bullies? What if you actually took your fate in your hands and actually killed them? I think that it was shocking at the time, but everyone has had that dream. It was just really, really groundbreaking at the time… It was a huge cultural phenomenon. There are lines from the show that have become lexicon… ‘Fuck me gently with a chainsaw’ and ‘What’s your damage?’ and ‘Did you have a brain tumour for breakfast?’ and all those lines from the movie.”
Trevor says Heathers: The Musical plays off those common experiences many people had in high school, with a cast of iconic characters you know from high school – the stoner, the punk, the nerd, the jock, etc. – instead of a chorus. Trevor says, “You’re going to recognize yourself from your high school years for sure when you see the show. That’s so interesting for the kids to play. They’re not playing a faceless, line-less, nameless chorus person.”
While the movie Heathers was released in 1988, Trevor says the characters, themes, and issues the musical explores are still as relevant today as they were 28 years ago. “These dynamics in young people are still happening – it has always been this way and still is this way. People feel bullied, they feel out of cliques, they feel under pressure, like an outsider, they want to get back at the people who made them feel that way.”
And while you might be thinking that Heathers: The Musical might not be for you if you don’t have a connection to Grant MacEwan’s theatre program, Trevor says you should check out Heathers anyway. “I think it’s an opportunity to get in early on the ground floor with some people who are going to become big names within our community.”
Heathers: The Musical plays at the Theatre Lab in MacEwan University’s Centre for the Arts Campus (10045 156 street) March 30 – April 9. Since the play is n the Theatre Lab at MacEwan, seating is extremely limited. Tickets are $15 – $20 through Tix on the Square.