Heathers: The Musical is a rock musical inspired by the cult classic film with the same name, following two sociopathic high school seniors who decide to take the social hierarchy of Westerberg High School into their own hands. The musical itself carries the same message and heart of the original film, adding onto its storyline and creating a wide genre of popular theatre songs as a result. I loved Heathers: The Musical long before I ever saw the original film. My Spotify playlist of my favorite musical songs consists of nearly the entire Heathers Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording. So, I was thrilled when I saw SPAMALU’s flyers stating that Heathers: The Musical was to be produced by Lawrence.
SPAMALU stands for Student Produced Amateur Musical Productions at Lawrence University. The club is run by Lawrentians with a passion for performance and theater who wish to share these joyful experiences with fellow Lawrentians, on and off the stage. Students in both the conservatory and college are welcome to unite under a common goal and interests. I was fortunate enough to interview the co-directors of the upcoming Heathers: The Musical production, Emilia Ciotti and Ben Johnson, who eagerly shared their thoughts and plans going into the upcoming production.
Q: What went behind the choice to put on Heathers
Johnson: “It was really kind of a fun process. We started out by meeting with the previous directors of SPAMALU. We then got a list of about 40 musicals together, met several times, got a huge spreadsheet [. . .] started narrowing it down. [We wanted] to do a show that everyone can be excited about because we haven’t had a school-sanctioned musical in so long.”
Ciotti: “We wanted a larger musical. We knew people were eager to perform. [Heathers] is such a cult classic. Not only is the movie super popular [. . .] but when the musical came out it instantly became a cult classic [. . .] so many people love it and know every song by heart.”
Q: When are auditions and who can audition?
A: Auditions are on Jan. 17. Any student is welcome to audition. SPAMALU is open to everybody.
Q: When are the shows?
A: April 14 through 16. More information about showtimes and location to be announced soon!
Q: What are you personally looking forward to the most going into this show?
Ciotti: “I’m just excited to be making theater again [. . .] the cast and crew just get so close when creating theater and I think this one will be very special [. . .] I’m also excited and a little bit nervous about directing [. . .] I’m excited to figure out what my style of directing is [. . .] This one in particular is going to be a huge team effort to put on.”
Johnson: “The downbeat of ‘Beautiful.’ I’m super excited the first day to get everybody together and do a read through [. . .] I can’t wait to really hear it all come together. The ensemble makes the show. Lawrence has so much talent so it’s going to be so much fun.”
Q: What is your favorite Heathers song?
Ciotti: “There’s so many good songs. I think I just have to go with ‘Beautiful.’ Such an iconic opening to a musical. And the end [. . .] just so powerful. The vocals are incredible. Though, if we’re talking underrated, ‘Freeze Your Brain’ is such a bop. So good. I could say that about any song.”
Johnson: “‘Beautiful’ [. . .] especially the finale. The buildup [. . .] such an earworm. Also, in ‘Big Fun,’ the ‘dang dang diggedy dang da dang’, [and] the ending of ‘Shine a Light.’”
During the concluding of our meeting, Johnson summed up why Heathers: The Musical is such an iconic choice, stating, “There’s really something for everyone. That’s really what makes it so special. You want the humor [. . .] party [. . .] ballad. It’s all there.” I, for one, can’t wait to see what SPAMALU does with it.