Stony Batter Players, Mercersburg Academy’s student theatre company, will present Heathers: The Musical (Teen Edition) Friday, February 10, and Saturday, February 11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 12, at 2 p.m. in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre.
The show is the story of Veronica Sawyer (played by Tyerra Rooffener ’23), a teenage misfit who makes her way into The Heathers, a powerful high school clique of three mean girls, all named Heather. As Veronica befriends Heather Chandler (played by Damien Dowling ’23), Heather McNamara (played by Keri-Ann Denis ’25), and Heather Duke (played by Talia Cutler ’23), she begins having reservations about the clique because of the girls’ questionable choices.
A high-energy dark comedy that covers difficult issues–bullying, suicidal thoughts, and sexual harassment–the show is not appropriate for children younger than 13.
See a listing of the cast and crew below.
The spring musical originally was going to be Les Misérables, but the decision was made to perform Heathers instead.
“Heathers is more of a cult hit. It has actually never had a Broadway run, but it really connects with current teenagers and, of course, it is a bit edgier,” says Director of Theatre Kelly Dowling P ’21, ’21, ’23. “Ironically, the core message of ‘Is it OK to sacrifice your morals to make your life easier?’ is the exact same in both shows.”
“Les Mis is musically very challenging, but it is also very acting- and singing-based, with almost no dancing,” Dowling said. “We have multiple large ensemble dance numbers in Heathers, which is very difficult in our rehearsal timeframe. And some of the music in Heathers is very challenging as well.”
Selecting content to perform is a balancing act, one that Dowling makes while keeping in mind that students want material that feels relevant to them.
“That is not always the same as the material that their parents and families look at fondly,” Dowling says, noting that while the teen version being performed by Stony Batter Players contains strong material handled in a darkly comedic way, the show has been adapted to be presented by teens for a teen audience. “There’s actually a triple layer of adaptation–there’s the 1989 movie, but then there’s the off-Broadway musical, which is quite different from the movie. The teen version smoothes off some of the rough edges. It does eliminate some of the language, but it would definitely merit a PG-13 or an R rating if it was a movie.”
“This would be one of the few cases where I’d say I prefer the teen version to the original. I think it offers something unique because it is coming from the lives of the actual people who are in the situations that we are talking about. Hopefully that’s a good tradeoff.”
The school counseling office has been available to help students process feelings generated from being in the show.
“Although it is very campy and over-the-top, how they deal with these serious issues in a comedic way, it could definitely trigger some really true and difficult feelings, so we wanted to make sure they had ways to process those, and the counseling staff has been phenomenal, working with them and keeping in touch, making sure everybody is supported,” Dowling said. “I don’t think we would have tried to do the show if we didn’t have that support system in place.”
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted and concessions will be sold to benefit both The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and works to prevent suicide among teens and young adults, and The Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ young people.
Access the digital program at this link or at tinyurl.com/MBurgHeathers.
The house opens 30 minutes prior to the show for general seating. The show will run about two hours with a 10-minute intermission.
Performances are open to the public. Reservations are not required, but those needing accommodations for disabilities or other reasons are encouraged to send a request to email@example.com.