By Bob Evans
Those who like the Winona Rider/Christian Slater dark comedy, Heathers will go corn nuts over Faust Theatre’s new production, “Heathers: The Musical,” darkly funny and resembling the cult classic movie.
The new production previewed Thursday, June 21 and officially opens Friday, June 22 at the Arts Asylum’s recently renovated auditorium. The show runs about 2 hours with intermission and features a cast of newcomers to the Kansas City performing arts scene, led by Mia Valentine and Christoph Nevens.
The story revolves around three high school divas who “own” the school and demonstrate disdain for all others not considered their social or beauty equals. They wreak havoc on the underlings, geeks, nerds, fat, homely, unpopular, etc. All three divas, named Heather, form a triumphant trio of power. The only pathway to success, acceptance, and popularity runs through their lunch table worshipers. They associate only with the others who worship and kowtow to their whims. Defiance to one equates to defiance against the vicious triumvirate.
“Heathers: The Musical” derives from a book with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. Poking fun at the social structures of teens gives way to the adult society that created the messed up adolescent years and unfurls the social pressures high school students faced in the 1980 that continue to plague the scholastic institutions. “Heathers” comes from the time before bullying developed into a hot topic. The show is classic bully behavior on all levels. The show gives insight into the pressure teens face to be “as good as” and to be accepted by peers.
Be prepared, the show is darkly humorous with the villains getting knocked off one by one. Those who created the high school caste system beware, the comeuppance awaits. Revenge can satisfy while deepening the hidden hungers for power and acceptance. The show deals with suicide, forgery, homosexuality, sexuality, booze, profanity, parties, random sex, bullying, murder and more. What’s great is that the music propels the show forward with darkly funny numbers.
The cast is firm from top to bottom. Wonderful acting combines with strong clear vocal performances to create a solid performance. For a cast so young, one might think of the show as a glorified high school production–and be so wrong to judge before seeing the results of hard work, dedication, and belief in the project. “Heathers” competes with the other acting companies in the Kansas City area and does not take a back seat to any. This is a bold statement from an up and coming theatre group. The cast, crew and director should be proud of their accomplishment.
Two standout performances come from the leads, Mia Valentine and Christoph Nevins. Their best support comes from the three Heathers who wear the role and dictate the school’s social climate, Zoey Johnson, Larkin Reilly, and McKenna Shaw. Also of note are dweeb, Martha Dunnstock played by Erin Cangelose, the two jocks, Hunter Myer and Scott Salem.
Cast: Mia Valentine as Veronica Sawyer, Christoph Nevins as Jason Dean, Cangelose as Martha Dunnstock, Joey Johnson as Heather Chandler, Larkin Reilly as Heather McNamara, McKenna Shaw as Heather Duke, Hunter Meyer as Kurt Kelly/Kurt’s Dad, Scott Salem as Ram Sweeney/Ram’s Dad, Daphany Edwards as Ms. Pauline/Young Republicanette, Zoe Lepper as Goth Girl/Mrs. Sawyer/Dance Captain, Raheem Felder-Bey as Beleaguered Geek/Mr. Sawyer, Adam Baugham as Hipter Dork/Cop 1, Tessa Hake as Stoner Chick/Cop 2, Gabriel Van Dyke as Preppy Stud/Coach Ripper, Bree Patterson as Denim Dive/Principal Gowan, Catie Wolfe New Wave Girl, Evan Phillips as The Dog Catcher.
The production team is led by co-directors, Zach Faust and Frederick Rivera. They are joined by Adde Dancy, music director; Regina Lombardo, choreographer; Kenny Personett, ‘Candy Store’ choreographer; Caleb McCarroll, rehearsal accompanist; Randall Jackson, stage manager; Alison Gillespie, production assistant; Jules McCarroll, Vocal coach; Kenzi Parsons, choreography assistant; Elizabeth Ericson, choreography assistant; Zach Faust, costumes; Fran Kuzoilo-Kapono, The Heathers costumer; Breanna Rowe, lighting designer; Sadie Klein, sound design; Eric Palmquist, properties master, Jessica Alcorn, wigs.
Outstanding musical accompaniment came from the “Heathers band, comprised of: Jeremy Jacobs, piano; Joe Donley, bass, AJ Bonci, guitar; John Gilmore, drums; Sam Langer, violin.
“Heathers” runs June 22-July 2 at the Arts Asylum Theatre, Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online via the Faust Theatre website.
Tags: Faust Theatre, Arts Asylum, “Heathers The Musical”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment