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Promo poster for Heathers

There are three theatre productions coming from Trent University this 2015-2016 season. Trent’s Classics Drama Group is putting on “The Frogs” and The Anne Shirley Theatre Company (ASTC) will be
presenting “Heathers” and “Heaven.”

“The Frogs” is being directed by Trent Alumni Kayla Reinhard, and is set to be presented February 3-6 at the Nozhem Theatre in Gzowski College or at the Market Hall. “Heathers” is ASTC’s musical and is being directed by Trent student Lucas DeLuca. It opens at Market Hall on March 11 and will play through to March 19. “Heaven” is being directed by Benjamin Harrison and is expected to have its first show on January 28 at Theatre on King.

“This year, we are putting on an ancient comedy by Aristophanes called ‘The Frogs’,” shared director Kayla Reinhard, and added, “At the time, it was written as a political satire because it was during a very tumultuous time for Athens.

They were dealing with corrupt politicians, constantly verging on war, and overall a poor political climate. We’ve adapted the story slightly and cut [out] many of the direct references he makes because we know not every audience member will be up on their ancient Athenian politics.”

Lucas DeLuca talked to Arthur about his upcoming production of “Heathers”, explaining, “This show is most definitely a dark comedy but it carries enough heart to keep you on the edge of your seat on the verge of laughter and at times tears. The musical Heathers is an adaptation from the very popular cult classic movie of the same title.”

Theatre company Samuel French describes the world of the Heathers: “Westerberg High is ruled by a shoulder-padded, scrunchie-wearing junta: Heather, Heather, and Heather, the hottest and cruelest girls in all of Ohio. But misfit Veronica Sawyer rejects their evil regime for a new boyfriend, the dark and sexy stranger J.D., who plans to put the Heathers in their place – six feet under.”

It’s no surprise that another amazing dark play is being presented by ASTC. DeLuca said the first reason he chose to put on “Heathers” was “it encompassed elements of every show I’ve done at Trent with the Anne Shirley Theatre company. It was funny, very much like ‘Legally Blonde’; it has a message, much like ‘Spring Awakening’; and it has plenty of darker themes like ‘Sweeney Todd’. The second reason is that this show, though it appears on its surface just a dark comedy, says so much about the human condition and how we adapt and cope in a changing world. ‘Heathers’ deals with teen suicide, bullying, eating disorders, physical and sexual abuse, not to mention a plethora of other issues. This show is crude, rude, and most importantly, a triumph of the human spirit.”

Regarding the auditioning process behind “Heathers”, DeLuca shared: “Auditions this year were beyond tough; the amount of talent in the room was unreal. The biggest downside to doing a musical I’ve found as a first-time director is that, no matter how many talented people audition, there are a finite number of characters written into the show. I was lucky enough to have an amazing panel of people with me in the room to help make all the decisions, from our Music Director Justin Hiscox and Vocal Director Mark Hiscox, to our Stage Manager Leigh Kasaboski and Choreographer Elizabeth Moody.”

The last play “Heaven” is very exciting because it is an all-Canadian show.

“Not only is it written by a Canadian playwright (George F. Walker), but it also is set in a Canadian City (Toronto),” shared Benjamin Harrison, “Heaven” director. Harrison also remarked, “The best part about this show is that, even though it deals with the darkest side of humanity, it also allows for a lot of comedy in how people grieve. This is something that is not unique to this show, but is something that I notice in theatre written in the past couple decades.”

Harrison explained that he chose the play “Heaven” because “of how it goes about dealing with adult themes. A very upsetting moment will appear on stage only to be followed by a very comedic scene. What makes this show great is that the comedy does not serve to diffuse or belittle what has just been seen, but to contrast the darkness so that the audience may truly understand the depth of what just happened.”

When asked to provide a brief summary of the play, Harrison said, “The plot of this show is fairly simple. The story is about a lawyer living with the consequences of a cop’s actions; as people close to the lawyer are killed by the police officer, the lawyer tries to deal with the increasing grief and guilt until the lawyer and cop die to each other.”

Harrison makes a special plea to all first-year students at Trent University: “Please check out more than just ASTC productions [‘Heaven’ and ‘Heathers’] and look at companies local to Peterborough. There is great theatre in this town and it is very easy to find if you are looking for it.”

Reinhard of “Frogs” also wanted to make a special thanks: “None of this would have happened without the support of [George Kovacs], the Classics Department, and the Indigenous Studies Department. Thank you all and I hope to see you in the audience!”