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Review: triangle productions! and Staged! Bring Us a Very Very HEATHERS...THE MUSICAL!

You remember Heathers, right? The 1988 cult classic movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater that gave the high school lexicon such classics as "What's your damage?" "That's so very!" and "F**k me gently with a chainsaw." (I wasn't allowed to see it, but I had a friend whose mom let us watch anything we wanted.) Well, now it's a musical playing at the Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza courtesy of triangle productions! and Staged! And it's great!

Heathers is the original Mean Girls, and these three girls -- all named Heather -- are really mean. They rule the roost at Westerburg High, where the social cliques include all the usual suspects -- jocks, nerds, etc. At the center of the story is Veronica Sawyer (who makes it into the popular group despite her name). She falls for J.D., a mysterious black-trenchcoated stranger, and together they decide to put a stop to all the meanness by offing Heather #1 and others who have made the lives of so many Westerburg students a living hell. As Veronica says, her "teen angst has a body count."

The movie is very dark and the characters are more caricatures than people. For the musical, Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy smoothed out some of the rough edges and made the characters much more human. Don't worry, Heathers purists -- the musical retains all of the flavor of the original, but now instead of just a very dark teen angst comedy, it's a show with something to say. In a time when school violence and bullying are far too common, HEATHERS...THE MUSICAL! is about acceptance. Whether you loved or hated the movie, I think you'll find a lot to like in the musical.

The show is a collaboration between triangle productions! and Staged!, which is a pre-professional training program for aspiring young musical theatre artists. This is the first production Staged! show I've seen, and to be honest, I expected a student production. But I was wrong -- there is nothing "student" about this show. It's a polished, professional performance by a group of amazingly talented actors (including a few Portland stage favorites). And boy can they sing! Malia Tippets, who plays Veronica, has as good a voice as I've heard on stage, as do several of the other soloists. The whole ensemble is impressive. If this is the future of Portland musical theatre, I'm very, very excited about it.

HEATHERS...THE MUSICAL! runs through April 9. I'll be surprised if it doesn't sell out. So if you want to see it, get your tickets now:

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From This Author - Krista Garver