Advanced Drama debuts 1980s dark comedy sensation

Kendall Rhoads

Advanced Drama will premiere their latest production, Heathers: The Musical, beginning October 7.

Heathers: The Musical is a contemporary comedic production that shows the cruel world people live in, by over-dramatizing several different controversial subjects relevant to teenagers, such as sex, drugs, humor, and alcohol. Those of which are relevant to current day throughout the production, according to Advanced Drama advisor Britt Block.  

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The show originated from a comedy film in 1988 and is about a stereotypical high school ruled by the popular clique of three girls all named Heather. The show deverts from racy and questionable subjects into the darkly humorous world of murder when the sociopath, JD, is introduced.     

The Redwood Advanced Drama department has never produced a show as intense or vulgar as Heathers, according to Block.  Life really isn’t all that dramatic when comparing it to Heathers.

“[Heathers] is vulgar.  It’s cussing, it’s sex, it’s drinking and it makes fun of all of that, too. People are going to react like crazy,” Block said. “But at the same time the play really shows the high school life everyone thinks they live in, even though it really isn’t.”

Director Anna Smith believes that the show is worth putting on stage, although some audience members will be be alarmed.

“I think that one of the reasons I wanted to direct this show is because it is breaking down that barrier about what happens in high school,” Smith said.

Britt and Smith expect the reactions of the parents to vary dramatically. Both expect for parents to be confused or slightly upset as well as understanding.  

“It’s not like [Heathers] is a story looking at the high school issues.  It’s a mirror looking back at their [parents’] generation,” Block said.

The play will be produced from beginning to end with no censorship of the performance content.

“It’s about how ugly the culture is. That’s really what the play is about, how brutally people treat each other. If I cut that, I’m making it nice and I don’t want to make it nice. It’s not nice,” Block stated.

Smith has been working hard with the twenty-five students in the Advanced Drama class and after school. The rehearsal process officially began a couple days before the year started.

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“The rehearsal process has been running very smoothly. It’s interesting to work on this piece with this group of students and I think that part of me was always ready to work on this play, but I was still a little bit nervous that the content was a bit too daring for them,” Smith said.

Redwood is the first high school in California to perform Heathers: The Musical onstage because the performance rights became available only within the past year. 

Junior Sophie Landeck has taken on the role as a Heather Chandler, the leader of the Heather clique.

“Heather Chandler has to be so extremely mean, or else the point of the show will not come across. It’s definitely difficult,” Landeck said. “She not just a mean person, she’s a powerful, manipulative, queen bee and that all needs to be expressed on stage.”

Landeck has been working hard everyday and loves the cast she has been working with.

“[The students] are working hard, enjoying themselves, and committing all this passionate energy into exploring the issues that are putting them on the stage,” Block said. “It really touches on the stuff that we don’t want to look at at Redwood.”