You couldn’t pay most people to go back in time and spend another day in high school. Everyone witnessed the kind of cruelty that can happen within those walls. Released in the late 1980s, Heathers became a cult classic by offering a darkly comical twist on the cliques we all love to hate.
MacEwan University’s theatre students are wrapping up the year with their interpretation of Heathers. The performance is based on an off-Broadway adaptation of the original film, and the MacEwan shows have been so popular that tickets are sold out, with just a handful available at the door on the night of the performances.
It’s no surprise that tickets were snapped up, as the story remains as relevant now as it was nearly 30 years ago.
Even if your high school experience was a bit less dramatic than the one depicted in Heathers, the archetypal characters in the story will be familiar to everyone. Veronica, an outcast, gets initiated into a group of three popular girls, all with the name Heather, only to realize that she doesn’t want to be associated with them. In fact, Veronica and her boyfriend decide that maybe the world would be a better place if the Heathers didn’t exist at all.
Trevor Schmidt, the director, says that the story continues to be relatable for university students because they’ve all experienced high school — and all of the drama that goes along with it.
“Nobody looks back at it and goes, ‘That was the best time of my life,’” says Schmidt.
He says that this story is quite contemporary in comparison to other shows that the students have performed this year. Students are also playing characters that are relatively close to their own ages.
“I think for them this feels very current, very hip,” he says.
Michelle Diaz, who plays Veronica in the MacEwan rendition of Heathers, hadn’t seen the movie until the theatre students watched it together in preparation for their show.
“I absolutely loved it,” she says. “It’s a cult classic, right?”
Diaz says she was thrilled to get the role of Veronica, who she feels is “less jaded” in this adaptation than she was in the original film.
“She really cares about her friends and doing the right thing, and just trying to survive high school,” says Diaz.
On the other end of the character spectrum, Hannah Memory Myers plays Heather Chandler in the MacEwan musical.
While Myers wasn’t able to attend the theatre students’ viewing of the original film, she says that missing it allowed her to perform a wholly unique rendition of the character.
“As opposed to being the Heather Chandler that everyone knows, I kind of just wanted to create her in a way that I can relate to,” she says.
While she views Chandler as “unforgivably bad,” Myers tried to imagine how she became that way.
“She’s awful, but she’s really smart, which is how she can keep on top of everyone,” says Myers.
The role is a departure from the other characters that Myers has played, and that’s part of the interest for her.
“It’s fun just being the villain,” she says. “You’re able to set up the challenges that the protagonist has to face.”
Photo by Madison Kerr.