The four protagonists of the musical Heathers, which opens today at the Opera Theater
Credits: @Hernan Zenteno
From Cult Film to Musical Comedy
First it was a movie and when it was released in North American theaters, in 1988, it turned out to be an audience failure. But over the years Heathers became a cult film and in DVD format it got tired of running out of reissues. In Argentina it was called the School of Young Assassins and surely any fifty-year-old can remember the vicissitudes of Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in a secondary school, where bullying, homophobia, sexual assault and even adolescent suicides were in force, not counting the homicides that took place outside doors. Later, with a less dark tone, but always within the black comedy genre, it was adapted to musical theater and in 2014 it reached the off-Broadway circuit. Finally, the show was transferred to London’s West End in 2018 and received the full recognition it deserved.
The Cast and Production
Now, the musical comedy by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy (four hands responsible for the book, music and lyrics), arrives this Saturday at Avenida Corrientes in a version produced by Valentina Berger (who recently landed Matilda on the same theatrical artery) and directed by Fernando Dente (who once again tries his hand at the role of director, after having made his debut as such in 2014 , when he was in charge of the setting of Emotional Creature). The cast of 19 actors was chosen, for the most part, after an extensive casting process, among more than 6,000 applicants. The winners were Julia Tozzi (Mom is smaller) and Nicolás Di Pace (A Chorus Line), in the leading roles that Ryder and Slater played in the Michael Lehmann film, and Sofi Morandi (Kinky Boots), Flor Anca (Shrek) and Martu Loyato (Costa Presidenta), as the Heathers (the popular, beautiful and desirable girls) that give the show its title. With the four actresses mentioned, LA NACION spoke about the imminent premiere in the dressing room they share in the Opera Theater, the large bunker that will shelter them until the end of July, when perhaps the musical will begin a tour of the interior of the country.
Interview with the Cast Members
Sofi Morandi, happy, for having accepted Fernando Dente’s proposal
Credits: @Hernan Zenteno
Question: You are all very young. What reference did they have from Heathers? Did you know the movie? And the musical?
Sofi Morandi: –When Fer summoned me about a year and a half ago, I had no idea what Heathers was, but later I saw the film and also the musical. The film is darker, I prefer the musical. From the musical, what caught my attention the most were the songs, which are a fire. Although my character is not that of the main character, he is terrific, I immediately fell in love with him and here I am. I’m glad I said yes.
Julia Tozzi: –What’s good about the musical is that it covers many styles and genres, although the one that prevails is rock. On top of that, since we have a live band, everything sounds tremendous.
Question: Both the movie and the musical take place in the ’80s. Is the local theatrical version too?
Sofi Morandi: –No, ours is timeless or more like 2000. Fer super modernized it. To those who are still clinging to the original idea, I tell you that the story is the same and the characters too. But the scenery and costumes are more cancheros. The lyrics were also adapted and part of the language was updated.
Julia Tozzi: –About the language, is it as strong as in the original?
Martu Loyato: –Yes, already in the first frame all the jokes appear together.
Sofi Morandi: –But always from a bizarre place. It’s very hard to hear all that at once, but it’s also fun.
Julia Tozzi: –The work is so tremendous that you have no choice but to laugh.
Martu Loyato: –It’s just that in Heathers everything is so saturated, fundamentally the visual, from the costumes to the scenery, that foul language fits. He’s in tune with that hype.
Question: How much of what happens at Heathers is still relevant today?
Sofi Morandi: –It is something universal. What happens to adolescents and the problems that are dealt with in this work go beyond the 1980s, what changes is the environment, but what happens to adolescents is always more or less the same.
Martu Loyato: –I I think that thanks to the updating of the work it is easier for the public to empathize with what happens in it, it would be different if it remained in the ’80s. Especially since surely the public that will come to see us was not born in that decade.
Question: Heathers talks, among other topics, about bullying, bulimia, toxic relationships and adolescent suicides. Did this problem affect you in high school?
Flor Anca: –Re. Completely. They bullied me for being very skinny. They charged me because I had no ass. That’s why I didn’t go out for recess, I was ashamed. I felt awful. I lived running from my house to school so that nobody would recognize me.
Martu Loyato: – Bullying didn’t happen to me, but that of having toxic relationships, falling in love and saying “I’ll give it all up” and entering a dangerous spiral.
Sofi Morandi: –I want to clarify that in this musical one does not lower the line or say “well, now we are going to talk about bullying or we are going to talk about suicides”, these themes are simply in the story and appear organically and, moreover, in a bizarre way. For example, there is someone who dies from taking a splash of liquid plumber, something that does not happen in real life. And as for the suicides, it is because it speaks of a stage in everyone’s life, adolescence, where perhaps one makes decisions that one thinks are going to be very small, but the sum of those decisions can lead to something as serious as it’s a suicide. Heathers also talks about the role that adults take in those moments, sometimes they don’t rise to the occasion and don’t help a teenager at all. And I am not referring only to the parents but also to the directors of the school.
Question: Since Heathers deals with all these topics from black humor, by the way, but humor at last, does it fulfill a healing function?
Sofi Morandi: –Yes. But the most important thing here is that you come to have a great time, to see a great show and to laugh a lot.
Julia Tozzi: –Yes, to the point that at one point you ask yourself: but hey, what am I laughing at?
Sofi Morandi: –Before To start rehearsals we did a two-week training workshop and there Fer told us: `We didn’t come to tell a strong story’ but to entertain the public for an hour and 40 minutes. But we all understand the same way that Heathers has a message, if people understand it and want to take it home, even better. In Heathers things happen all the time on stage, there is a lot of stimulation and the ensemble moves stairs, sings and dances until they drop. On top of that they do magic tricks. In short, I hope the public understands the message, but if not, I’m sure they will be shocked by what she saw on stage. We are so excited that we always end up crying at the end of rehearsals.
Martu Loyato: –The message would be to try to be more empathetic. Although things may not be able to be changed because schools are almost unchangeable, each one on their own can try to make the person next to them have a better time. Although I never suffered bullying, after this work I began to remember what my high school stage was like and I realized that perhaps the shy classmate was not like that because he did not seem to speak but because…