Lincoln drama takes on dark comedy “Heathers” in spring production

Heathers poster used for the teen version of “Heathers: The Musical,” this years spring theater production.

Tracy Talerico

Heathers poster used for the teen version of “Heathers: The Musical,” this year’s spring theater production.

“Heathers: The Musical” contains all the stereotypical high school tropes: the mean girls, the jocks, and the misfits. However, “Heathers” differs from other high school dramas because of its complex subject matter including bullying, suicide and sexual assault. This spring, performers and audiences will grapple with these subjects in Lincoln’s theater.

“Heathers” will also be a musical of firsts: the first performed in Lincoln’s new building and the first directed by the new drama teacher, Tracie Talerico. The version performed will be different from the one seen on Broadway—a toned down teen version based on the musical’s script.

According to drama cabinet members, the announcement of the spring musical sparked some backlash and worry among parents and students. Because of the subject matter, there was considerable conversation among the drama cabinet and faculty about the viability of putting on the show. Sophomore Fraser Barnes, the Drama Cabinet’s publicist, supported the decision to proceed with the musical.

“We knew that it would be tough because there’s a lot of parents out there who were worried about that kind of thing,” said Barnes. “We decided that if it’s very clear, on the forms and during auditions, that this is a heavier show than “The Sound of Music,” […] then it’s up to the parents to decide if they want their children to go see it.”

Along with warning the audience about sensitive material, the production will also feature resources for students who are struggling with aspects of the content. 

Mathilda Schmidt, a drama student who will be auditioning for the musical, believes that “Heathers” is an opportunity to spread awareness.

“The whole reason we’re doing the show is to spread awareness about [sensitive] topics, like teen drinking. They’re things that happen and ignoring them isn’t going to make them go away,” Schmidt said. “We decided to do it and also provide resources where people can contact suicide hotlines, sexual assault hotlines, things like that.”

Talerico agreed with the importance of the subject matter, along with its relevance in the drama cabinet’s decision.

“We all felt like the content and the issues that are brought up in the musical are all relevant to Lincoln students’ lives today and and students in general,” she said. “We felt like being able to create a unified experience through theater and allowing students to all experience the same show together would then help to foster more conversations about these topics.”

Auditions for the musical, open to all Lincoln students, will start Jan. 30 and run until Feb. 3.