As curtains closed on the University Theatre’s production of “Heathers” this past weekend, the cast did so with a bang, leaving it all on the stage to close out a captivating, sold-out production. 

The characters in “Heathers” deal with dark themes like depression, suicide and murder throughout the show, and each actor conveyed intense emotion to tackle these tough topics.

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Every movement and facial expression was purposeful and added to the cast’s storytelling abilities. Though “Heathers” is a darker musical, it still has moments of humor, and the cast managed a great balancing act between the show’s seriousness and silliness. The cast was able to make the audience laugh with their comedic timing only to put them on the edge of their seats a few moments later in sad or serious scenes.

Each actor had a big stage presence that made it clear there were no small parts. There was chemistry, humor and passion exhibited across the company in a skillful portrayal a dark and sometimes disturbing story. 

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Adding on to the amazing acting abilities of the students was their stunning voices. Many of the characters had their own songs, and each actor shined in their own solo moments. But whenever the cast sang in harmony together, it was electrifying. The musicality of the cast and each individual performer was nothing short of remarkable.

This was especially true for lead actors, Caroline Hansen (Veronica) and Michael Decker (JD). Their duets were breathtaking with voices that melded together and complimented each other. 

The actors weren’t the only reason for the show’s success ⁠— the atmosphere and set also added to the ambiance of the musical. The lighting played a key role in adding to “Heathers'” eerie nature by keeping it dark and somber. In moments filled with fear or danger, the stage was washed in red light. In another pivotal scene when one of the characters jumped off a bridge, lights were projected on the stage to mimic water.

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The set — built to look like the middle of Westerburg High School — was also an integral part in creating the show’s atmosphere. Though the stationary set limited the ability to make more realistic backgrounds for scenes not in the high school, this technicality could be ignored since the school setting was at the center of the show’s plot.

All of these elements together made for an incredible show and experience. The high level of precision and hard work put in to this show certainly paid off, bringing to life to “Heathers” resounding message that even if we are “damaged,” we can still make life “beautiful.”