Hopkins Drama Association Killed Heathers: The Musical
The Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) wrapped up another successful spring musical, Heathers: The Musical, on March 1 to 4. Heathers is the story of senior Veronica Sawyer (Georgia Doolittle ’18) who longs to be popular like the three Heathers: Heather McNamara (Naomi Roberts ’18), Heather Duke (Katie Broun ’19), and Heather Chandler (Kiarra Lavache ’18).
When an innocent drink mix-up results in the accidental poisoning of Heather Chandler, JD (Kieran Anderson ’18) convinces Veronica to stage Heather’s suicide after the event spirals out of control.
This show was co-directed and produced by Drama Instructor Hope Hartup and music and Choral Director Erika Schroth. Hartup explained her reasoning behind choosing this production: “Heathers is in the tradition of other musicals I have directed in the past--Chicago, Cabaret, Gypsy--all of which addressed either difficult or mature themes. In each instance, our students understood the complex issues at stake and handled the material with a level of maturity that I have come to experience as the hallmark of a Hopkins student.”
Heathers started as a film in 1989, then a rock musical in 2014 and, more recently, a TV series. HDA performed the high school edition of this production. “The script for Heathers: The Musical (High School Edition) takes all the dark humor from the film and makes it real, telling stories that our young people want to tell and need to tell,” said Hartup. “This is a really exciting show because of how crazy the storyline is,” said Sam Jenkins ’19 (Beleaguered Geek).
Elizabeth Roy ’20 called the musical an “unexpected experience,” going on to explain the nature of the show as one that will “make you laugh and cry and gasp and want to dance in your seat.”
The cast members also mentioned how Heathers juxtaposed comedy with themes as dark as suicide. Griffin Congdon ’20 (Officer McCord) described it as a “special show
because it deals with serious subject matter and is still able to show a fun, high-spirited time to the audience.” Graley Turner ’20 (Veronica’s Mom) addressed the contrast as well. “On one hand, it’s full of hilarious moments and fun songs and comical characters but, on the other hand, it’s also a show about murder and sui
cide and a lot of very heavy themes,” she said.
Beyond its storyline, the musical deals with themes that are relevant to high schoolers, even thirty years after it was written. Dylan Sloan ’18 (Kurt’s Dad) said, “The high school setting of the play immediately jumps out as something that Hopkins students can grab onto. Although Hopkins isn’t quite the same as Westerberg High, the play grapples with topics that are still relevant to students our age: peer pressure, friendship, social life in a high school setting, et cetera.”
Jaime Donovan ’19 (Kurt Kelly) elaborated on Sloan’s point and said, “The musical might embellish a lot of its characters and their traits but they all represent aspects of high school that do exist. The message at the end of the musical rings so true with everyone who’s gone
through high school - or is going through it now.”
In conjunction with the exciting plot and understandable characters, the two-hour production was jam-packed with a diverse soundtrack of songs from slow rock ballads to jumpy fun duets. There were roughly 21 songs in total, including 8 big ensemble numbers, which Gracie Theobald-Williams ’20 described as “fun to perform.” Alex Weisman ’20 played the trumpet in the pit band for the show, and said, “Both the band and the cast is a great group of kids and it has been amazing working with both. Everybody is so talented which makes it that much easier.”
For the seniors of HDA, Heathers was their last HDA musical performance. “The seniors are a huge part of the show,” said Turner ’20. She added, “We have fourteen in the cast and they’re all so amazing in their own ways. You will constantly see the seniors hanging out with freshman backstage or helping people with choreography or going over lines with an underclassman.” Hartup agreed, noting that the seniors were always busy with the underclassmen. “Whether they are organizing cast dinners, helping to get the cast focused or helping to clean up the choreography, all of the seniors have proved to be excellent leaders and role models,” she said.
The fourteen seniors in the cast all came to the musical with different experiences in acting, singing, and dancing. Andrew Roberge ’18 (Coach Ripper) said he began theater in seventh grade when he arrived at Hopkins, but Heathers was his first time performing in a musical. Drew Mindell ’18 (Principal Gowan) said he has taken part in theater ever since he was four, with his debut as the butterfly in one of his synagogue’s productions. “I continued to do theater after that, but some of my best experiences have been at Hopkins.”
Doolittle ’18 also began theatre from a young age. She said, “Ever since I was really young, I did a theater camp where we wrote and performed our own plays. It was an amazing place that really fostered my love for theater, and the arts in general. During freshman year, I started participating in HDA productions and theater became an extremely important part of my life.”
Underclassmen described HDA seniors as “wonderful mentors,” “teachers,” and role-models,” as well as “incredibly talented,” “kind-hearted,” and “amazing.” Broun ’19 said, “The seniors this year have been an integral part of our success as a cast. I have learned so much from their guidance, especially since the cast and crew is such a tight-knit group of individuals.”
Many seniors also noted the impact that HDA had on their Hopkins careers. Sloan ’18 described HDA as, “knowing that there’s a group of people on campus that will always be supportive and you’ll always enjoy being around.” He continued: “Theater can really bring the people involved in it together, and I’m super appreciative of the friendships that being part of HDA has facilitated.”
From the enthusiasm given off by the cast and crew, it is clear there was a shared overarching respect and love for one another throughout the entire production process. As Congdon ’20, stating, “HDA is so tight-knit because it forces people to come out of their shells and show their true self to their peers.”