Millennial Theatre Revisits ‘Heathers’ With Updated Script

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Millennial Theatre Co.’s upcoming production of “Heathers: The Musical” opens Friday, and while it won’t be the first time the troupe has mounted the show, it will feel like it.

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

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

“We did it back in 2016, but since then the authors 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 off-Broadway in 2014 and in London four years later.

Performance rights had just become 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 figured it might as well be us. It seems only natural that if we would redo a show, it would be this one. It fits with the demographic we usually pull in.”

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 it the treatment it deserves.”

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

The plot centers around Veronica Sawyer, who enters the popular crowd ruled 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 quandary.

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

“I had no idea about the extent to which it has been changed,” he said. “The rewrites since 2016 bring it into a more modern era. Veronica has more autonomy.”

He expects audiences will like how the show has evolved. The update also includes a few new songs. 

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

The Hopewell Theatre is a smallish venue that doesn’t see a lot of musicals. “Heathers” has a large cast but will fit nicely on its stage, Asente said. “It’s small but big enough.”

The show was originally on Millennial’s 2020 season lineup, which was canceled because of the pandemic.

The cast of the new production is entirely different from the first time around. It includes 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. Jan. 14, 15, 21 and 22; and 2 p.m. Jan. 16 and 23 at the Hopewell Theatre, 702 Mahoning Ave. Tickets can be purchased in advance at MillennialTheatre.org.

Masks are required for all audience members, as well as proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test taken within the previous 72 hours. At-home tests will only be accepted if the results are available in an app and prove the date the test occurred.

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

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