BOONE – The Appalachian Musical Theater Club presents “Heathers: the Musical” at Legends from April 1-3 at 7 p.m.
The production, presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals, is entirely directed by students from Appalachian State University. This includes directors, technicians, actors and musicians for a team of around 40 people.
The Appalachian Musical Theater Club is proud to provide performance and production opportunities for students of all majors and skill levels. In addition to mounting productions like “Rent,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Chicago,” and “Legally Blonde” among others, the organization also offers workshops in collaboration with campus partners.
A student of theater education, Will Taylor is the production manager and president of the Appalachian Musical Theater Club. He said the organization is an experience for students that is not provided by the university.
“Directing is always something I’ve wanted to try, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to do it,” Taylor said. “We’re entirely student-run, so things get a little hectic at times and it’s not as smooth as the main productions in the department. I think there’s a lot more heart in these productions because it’s really an educational opportunity that you don’t have in college.
A freshman in theater education, Naomii Hayes is the show’s costume designer. She said her priority is to make sure everyone is comfortable with what they’re wearing on stage and to make sure “costume changes and quick changes are seamless and perfect.” She said costumes are important to the plot of the story, especially for “Heathers: the Musical.”
Hayes said that as a freshman, it was her first experience in a production like this.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in a place where the production is entirely run by my peers and I personally think that working in a club like this, student-run and made up entirely of students, is so much more fun and rewarding,” Hayes said. “The work ethic is real. We don’t work for a big reward or scholarship, we do it because it’s fun and we all love doing it.
Music therapy major Janie Grischow plays the female lead, Veronica Sawyer. Grischow said she was surprised by the quality of the rehearsals leading up to their April 1 weekend performances.
“I joined (this club) the most recent semester and I didn’t even know it was student-run, then I heard it was student-run and I was like ‘no shot, it’s going to work “just because when I thought about it, I was like ‘this could very well burn to the ground,'” Grischow said. “But now that I’m here and I’m living it, everyone is doing phenomenally…I’m so proud of everyone around me and it’s come a long way.”
Taylor said “Heathers: the Musical” is not a “family” show and those interested in seeing the production should read the listed content disclaimers before purchasing tickets.
“It’s a pretty intense show. I mean, it’s still musical theater at its core, but if any musical was going to be rated R, it’s probably this one. It’s still PG-13, but I would say just buckle up and be ready,” Taylor said. “I say in our directors’ note that if you ever leave the show saying, ‘Oh, that was bad,’ or being offended, then we probably didn’t do our job… This show should make you think about some of the ways we live our lives and the way we talk to people.It’s a high school and college accented story. importance of conversations about mental health in America and how it can be very dangerous not to have them front and center.
Taylor said that despite being a student-run club and not run by the university’s theater department, he thinks the quality of the shows and the opportunities for collaboration are impressive.
“I like to tell people that I consider ourselves a performance company. I don’t really see us as a club because we have the ability to do everything a performance company does,” Taylor said. “We’re the outlet for musical theater every year on campus because the department only does a musical once every two years, so we’re really the main source of it… It’s a huge collaborative experience and learning.”