Aug 07, 2020

Heathers: The Musical ‘paints a picture of culture’

1989 – a great year to listen to Janet Jackson’s album, “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814,” go watch George Michael in concert during his Faith World Tour or kill three of your classmates.

Fresno State’s University Theatre premiered “Heathers: The Musical” on May 5 in the John Wright Theatre to a packed audience, excited to view a cult classic in a new format.

The musical is an adaptation of the 1988 film of the same name. The film featured Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in one of their earliest roles as two teenagers in love, if you could call it that, and the unintentional slaying of their three enemies.

This new adaptation follows the storyline of the film fairly closely. All of the main elements of the plot are there, just slightly edited to fit the new format. There are two acts in the musical that are paced like the film. It is just familiar enough to keep longtime fans of the film happy, but it also stands alone as its own, rather than just a direct and lazy translation of the film into a musical.

This musical is perfect for people who do not normally watch musicals. The references to people and events in pop culture helps viewers to immerse themselves in the characters’ world which many people lived through.

The themes and topics explored in the musical’s 1989 setting are just as important in 2017.

“My Dead Gay Son” is one of the moments in this adaptation which differs from the film. While only being a minor section in the movie, the musical expands on the scene. It tackles the issue of homophobia and also makes light of the situation in a way that is humorous.

The musical is not for everyone. There are crude sex jokes, a great amount of pelvic thrusts, two guys in their underwear for half of the musical, drug use, murder, bad outfits from the ‘80s, cheesy ballads and the list can go on.

Rather than shying away from topics often frowned upon, the musical makes a point to put them out in the open. By pairing the rather serious topics of eating disorders, homophobia, rape, emotional abuse and more with ridiculous songs like one about the greatness of 7-Eleven, it paints a picture of a culture that needs to do more to change the way that it handles issues of importance.

“Heathers: The Musical” is showing May 9 – 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the John Wright Theatre.

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