Heathers? The musical? Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.
After a successful run in Los Angeles, this spin on the 1988 cult hit Heathers opens on July 22 and draws its curtains shut on August 13 on the Christel DeHaan Main Stage at Theatre on the Square to conclude the venue’s 2015–2016 season. From beginning to end, Heathers: the Musical (with music, lyrics, and book by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy) creates a world of turmoil, comedy, and shock, bringing to light many issues relevant to today’s world, with themes of teen suicide, homophobia, and gun violence.
For those unfamiliar with the darkly hilarious story that is Heathers, it’s the tale of brainy 17-year-old Veronica Sawyer, who gets fed up with the cliquey ways of Westerberg High School even as she begins her ascent into the most powerful and ruthless clique: the Heathers. But as soon as she’s “in” with the three Heathers, Veronica starts a relationship with JD, the sexy and dangerous new kid, who enlists her help to wreak havoc on their high school class.
In this musical rendition of the late ’80s hit, Veronica is played by Ball State University graduate and Indy native Miranda Nehrig, who just wrapped up her time playing Uta Bergman-Hayes in Theatre on the Square’s production of Porno Stars at Home.
“There are parts of me in Veronica for sure, and I think for the most part, she is the voice of reason in this melodramatic world we create,” says Nehrig. “I think we all crave acceptance and some semblance of normalcy, especially at the age of 17, and that’s something she desperately wants.” After Heathers: the Musical is over, Nehrig will be headed to law school two weeks after the final bow, so this will be her last show for a few years at TOTS.
Making his TOTS debut, Clayton Marcum said he already loved the story from watching it many times, before he even knew he would play dark and mysterious JD on stage in Indy.
“There were some aspects (of JD) that were difficult to find, but I was listening to the soundtrack … and it wasn’t hard to find who JD really was,” says Marcum. A vocal performance student at Manchester University, Marcum is no stranger to the spotlight, so he’s excited to bring his talents to Indy later this summer.
Overall, the cast features mostly newcomers to Theatre on the Square, with Addy Monger as Heather Chandler, Jenny Reber as Heather McNamara, and Jameelah Leaundra as Heather Duke rounding out the main cast.
With fresh talent comes challenges, but the experienced director, Zack Neiditch, and producer, Zach Rosing, feel it’s been worth it. Together, the pair has produced Bat Boy the Musical and The Rocky Horror Show for several theaters around the area, including in 2015 at Theatre on the Square, with great success.
“The cast is mostly younger than I’ve worked with before. So the energy has been great,” says Neiditch. The actors double as singers for the two-act musical, Monger says she’ll be sleeping as much as possible and drinking tea before the shows to make sure her voice is rested up for the hit songs like Candy Store and Big Fun.
A live band will play the more than 20 tunes throughout the show. How very.
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