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What’s your damage?

"Heathers: The Musical" brings pitch-black song and dance to Lakewood Playhouse

It was only a matter of time before the dark humor of cult film "Heathers" would find its way to Broadway. Photo credit: Lakewood Playhouse

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It's hard to look at the 1988 film Heathers and imagine it becoming anything other than a cult hit. All of the hallmarks of a cult film are there: a campy aesthetic, a profoundly dark sense of humor, and a subject matter that might've once seemed fantastical, but has only grown more relevant as the years have passed. Sure enough, Heathers didn't do much at the box office, but it has lived on as a favorite for anyone who feels like an outsider.

Broadway, meanwhile, has recently been quite taken with the idea of transforming cult films into musicals -- as seen with the likes of Evil Dead -- so it should come as no surprise that Heathers would follow suit. Heathers: The Musical opened Off-Broadway in 2014, with book and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, with a rock motif that emulates the ‘80s setting of the movie. Also preserved from the movie is the pitch-black story, which concerns suicide, sexual assault, and school shootings, which is pretty heavy material for a musical.

Lakewood Playhouse will be staging Heathers: The Musical as part of a concerted effort they've been making to present a more modern and varied selection of shows for their seasons, which has been generating a welcome spark in the South Sound theater scene.

"We have tried to expand the kind of shows that we do to try and more accurately represent the diversity of the world around us and the representation that has emerged on Broadway over the last decade," says Lakewood Playhouse Managing Artistic Director John Munn. "Heathers fits right into our category of ‘modern musical' for our January show slot. It stands right along shows like American Idiot, Rocky Horror and Avenue Q in its accessibility to our patrons that are looking for something that is current and relevant to what's happening now, while also entertaining on a level that, until recently, wasn't seen on stages in Pierce County.

"The dialogue might be straight from the movie, but the songs are incredible and infectious," Munn continues. "The biggest challenge, as always, has been taking such a large show and adapting it to our intimate space at the Playhouse. Our director, Ashley Roy, and choreographer, Heather Covington Malroy, have really done an impressive job and used the space in so many unique ways."

As for the timeliness of the story, the razor's edge of its satire hasn't dulled a bit.

"Although it's set in a high school in 1989, it might as well be happening at one down the street," says Munn. "Like our upcoming production of The Wolves, it deals with peer pressure, bullying and fighting for acceptance in the modern world while trying not to change who you really are and want to be as an individual. We couldn't be more proud to present both Heathers and The Wolves to our audiences in order to further illuminate the problems that our youth, and even adults, are struggling with right now."

Heathers: The Musical, 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17-Feb. 9, Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. SW, Lakewood, $25-$30, 253.588.0042,

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