Menlo School Drama Department takes us back to high school with “Heathers The Musical”

by Contributed Content on November 7, 2017

Menlo School Drama is presenting Heathers The Musical: High School Edition, based on the 1988 classic cult film of the same name.

Performances run Thursday, November 16 through Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 19 at 2:00 p.m. in Florence Moore Auditorium at Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, available for advance purchase online. Limited tickets may also be available at the door one hour before each performance. This production is rated PG-13. [Note: Friday, Nov. 17 is sold out.]

The year is 1989, and it’s the first day of school at Westerberg High, where a scrunchie-wearing shoulder-padded clique of almighty Heathers rules the school, keeping the nobodies, outcasts and dim-witted jocks in line with manicured fists of iron. Enter Veronica, a geek with makeover potential, a gift for forgery and an exterminating angel for a boyfriend. When her play for popularity goes awry and her teenage angst begins to have a body count, Veronica is faced with the ultimate choice: allow her high school thunderdome to go up in flames, or save herself and her classmates from certain destruction.

Audiences will love Heathers because “it is smart, funny, entertaining and high energy through and through,” says cast member Jordan Gold, who plays the role of Heather Chandler. “But equally important,” Gold says, “the show deals with and validates the serious and often marginalizing issues high schoolers experience everywhere.”

Cast member Emma Dressel, who plays Veronica Sawyer, adds, “Everyone can identify with something in this show: feelings of insecurity, sacrificing some part of yourself to fit in, or one of the many other messages the show touches, ultimately illuminating the importance of accepting yourself and others.”

Director of Creative Arts and Upper School Drama Steven Minning is excited to be staging Heathers as his thirteenth mainstage production for Menlo School. “I knew Heathers had a cult following among teen audiences nationwide and that our students loved it,” he says. “The added bonus to this already win-win with the students is that the show skillfully ricochets between the sublime and the ridiculous, fun and darkness, while ultimately dealing with important themes in a meaningful way which will resonate with our students and community.”

A dark comedy set to an upbeat frolicking score, the show delves into serious issues — bullying, social isolation, teen suicide — that today’s high schoolers know all too well. In this context, “what makes Heathers unique to direct is that it’s about directing students playing students. It’s fascinating to watch the delicate balance between art imitating life, and life imitating art, ” Minning says. In the end, “this is a joyful play to direct because the students are so energetic, exuberant, and engaged with the material, and the finale reminds us all that life can be beautiful if we are kind to one another.”

Continuing the tradition of philanthropy Minning began four years ago through Menlo Drama Gives Back, this production of Heathers will benefit SafeSpace of Menlo Park, a new nonprofit dedicated to supporting local young people by providing early confidential access to mental health care, mental health advocacy and ongoing community education.

Heathers opens the 2017-18 Menlo Drama season, which will also include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and an all-school production of the English musical Oliver.

Photo by Bella Scola; pictured – (back, left to right) Emma McGaraghan, Emma Dressel; (middle) Clara Guthrie, Braedon Young; (front) Jordan Gold

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