Millennial Theater Revisits ‘Heathers’ With Updated Script

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Millennial Theater Co. Upcoming production of “Heathers: The Musical” kicks off Friday, and while it won’t be the first time the cast has put on the show, it’s going to be craving.

The Mahoning Valley-based theater company debuted in 2016 and did “Heathers” as its debut show, bringing it to Akron. The revival will take place at the Hopewell Theater in Youngstown, with six performances scheduled over the next two weekends. But the script has been updated so heavily that it feels like a new show.

Joe Asente, director of the theater company and “Heathers,” said the show was a good fit for a second look.

“We did that in 2016, but since then the writers have totally revamped the show,” Asente said. “It’s totally different.”

The rock musical, with lyrics and book by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, is based on the 1989 film of the same name. It opened on Broadway in 2014 and in London four years later.

Performance rights had just been made available to community theaters in 2016 when Millennial presented the regional premiere.

“We assumed someone else would do it in subsequent years, but no one ever did,” Asente said. “So we thought that might as well be us. It seems only natural that if we had to do a show again, it would be this one. This matches the demographics we usually attract.

Audiences should expect a more polished product this time around.

“We were brand new [in 2016] and had a budget of $500,” Asente said. “Now we can give him the treatment he deserves.”

The story is set in a high school where typical cliques determine status. “For those unfamiliar, it’s ‘Mean Girls’ with murder,” Asente said, referring to the 2004 teen comedy.

The plot centers around Veronica Sawyer, who walks into the popular mob led by a trio of girls dubbed the Heathers. Veronica and her boyfriend team up to put the Heathers in their place, but things go too far, leaving her in a dilemma.

Asente said he was surprised when he read the revised script.

“I had no idea how much it was altered,” he said. “The rewrites since 2016 bring it into a more modern era. Veronica has more autonomy.

He expects audiences to like the way the show has evolved. The update also includes some new songs.

“It’s almost a totally different show,” he said.

The Hopewell Theater is a small venue that doesn’t see many musicals. “Heathers” has a large cast but will fit in well on its stage, Asente said. “It’s small but big enough.”

The show was originally part of Millennial’s 2020 season lineup, which was canceled due to the pandemic.

The cast of the new production is entirely different from the first time. It features Lauren Jones, Natalina Kazimir, Brianna Rae Quinn, Kaleigh Ceci, Daniel Gordiejew, Sam Gregory, Jacob Nash, Sarahh Kinser, Courtney Martin, Ryan Stewart, Ben Doss, Lauren Engle, Michelle Jalbert, Kat Roman, George Maillis, Ty Hanes , Aleea Morrison and Kara Swansiger.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on January 14, 15, 21 and 22; and 2 p.m. on January 16 and 23 at the Hopewell Theater, 702 Mahoning Ave. Tickets can be purchased in advance at MillennialTheatre.org.

Masks are required for all members of the public, along with proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or negative test taken within the previous 72 hours. Home tests will only be accepted if the results are available in an app and prove the date the test took place.

Pictured: Brianna Rae Quinn, Lauren Jones, Natalina Kazimir and Kaleigh Ceci star in the Millennial Theatre’s production of ‘Heathers’. (Image: Millennial Theater Co.)

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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