Covid-era staging: SOOP Theatre streams ‘Heathers: The Musical’ after recording shows in Sanborn parking lot

Using a unique approach to doing theater during the pandemic, the SOOP Theatre Company streamed its production of “Heathers: The Musical (High School Edition)”  to audiences across Pelham Oct. 24 and 25 after the show was staged in the Sanborn Map Building parking lot. The musical featured two casts where leads would play their primary role in one show and ensemble/additional roles in the next.

Performing without an audience affected the actors in various ways.

“It was definitely a different experience,” said Oliver Tam, who played J.D. “Of course, a downside was the energy that one gets from feeding off the audience’s excitement wasn’t there. But at the same time, the ability to perform without an audience also allowed those on stage to have more creative freedom without the fear of being judged by said audience. Personally, I noticed that a lot of actors, including myself, experimented with new elements of our characters constantly and weren’t afraid to throw things into the performance that they hadn’t tried.”

The musical, written by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, is a high-energy production filled with dark humor, though it addresses high school bullying, suicide, violence and assault. This version was modified to fit a high school cast.

“The show definitely is one of those where it hits you with some hard topics,” said Tam. “Although the musical is a dark comedy, there are moments when it touches on genuine issues like suicide, among other things. And I think that the way that it generates awareness regarding these things while still providing an entertaining story is pretty remarkable.”

The show begins with 17 -year-old Veronica Sawyer (Caitlin Winston and Vanessa Rosado) in distress over her high school’s hierarchy, at the top of which are the Heathers: Heather Chandler (Charlotte Moore and Ava Pedorella), Heather McNamara (Katy Lange and Ava Pursel) and Heather Duke (Allison Feldman). Ironically, the Heathers notice Veronica’s beauty and give her a makeover, adding her to the “clique.” As a member of the Heathers, Veronica is then forced to betray her best friend, Martha Dunnstock (Alison Lange and Maddy Lyons). In typical high-school movie fashion, Veronica then falls for the new, poetry quoting outcast J.D. (Tam and Austin Kelly). But while Veronica, J.D. and the rest encounter some of the usual teen drama, the story eventually veers away from the typical high school experience, sparking a cycle of violence that stuns the community. 

“Though the plot eventually diverges, at the heart of the story, it simply depicts teenagers doing teenage stuff,” said Tam. “Although the lingo of the teens might be different, the cores of these characters still remain relatable.”

The cast rehearsed for four weeks in order to produce the show. Auditions and rehearsals were held at SOOP’s Fifth Avenue Studio, following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. Usually, the main production would also be held at the same location. However, as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the actors were forced to perform on the outside stage. The final show was recorded at the Sanborn parking lot with a larger stage that allowed participants to socially distance as much as possible. The taping was Oct. 18 and made available for streaming Oct. 24 (cast 1) and Oct. 25 (cast 2).


Veronica Sawyer/Ensemble: Caitlin Winston (cast 1), Vanessa Rosado (cast 2)

J.D/Coach/Veronica’s Dad/Ensemble:​ Oliver Tam (cast 1)​​, Austin Kelly (cast 2)

Heather Chandler/Ensemble: Charlotte Moore (cast 1), Ava Pedorella (cast 2)

​​​Heather McNamara/Ensemble: Katy Lange (cast 1), Ava Pursel (cast 2)

​​Heather Duke: Allison Feldman 

Martha Dunnstock/Ensemble: Allison Lange (cast 1), Maddy Lyons (cast 2)​  

Ram Sweeney/Officer McCord:​ Bennett Safsel

Kurt Kelly/Officer Milner:​​ Aidan Zusin

Ram’s Dad/Hipster Dork/Ensemble:​​ Vikram Jallepalli

Ms. Fleming /Ensemble:​ Emily Cullen (cast 1)​, Isabella Rosado (cast 2)​ 

Kurt’s Dad/Preppy Stud/Ensemble: Andrew Kelly 

Big Bud Dean/Geek Boy/Ensemble: Sean McCormick

Veronica’s Mom/Ensemble: Emma Koonce

​​Principal Gowan/Ensemble: Samantha Min (cast 1), Emmie Smith (cast 2)

​​​Young Republicanette/New Wave Girl/Ensemble:​ Leila Brady

Stoner Chick/Ensemble:​ Joselyn Warwick