My favourite musical can be best described as Mean Girls set in the eighties; a high school outcast befriends the three most popular girls in the grade and things go very, very badly. Sadly, Heathers never made it to Broadway, which doesn’t make any sense to me, since it’s the most relatable, most helpful story I’ve ever been exposed to. Heathers deals with bullying, drug abuse, suicide, homophobia, depression, body shaming, eating disorders, and many more issues amongst today’s teenagers.
“If I say the wrong thing, or I wear the wrong outfit, they’ll throw me right over the side,” says (sings) Heather McNamara, who turns to drugs to numb the pain of her peers’ judgement and struggles with bulimia.
“The only place that Heathers [the bullies] and Marthas [the bullied] can get along is in Heaven,” claims JD, who is a firm believer that everyone around him is so awful that it’d be best if they were all dead, himself included. He dies for his cause.
“Just another geek trying to imitate the popular people and failing miserably,” Heather Duke laughs, in relation to committing suicide. In their world, so many people have ended their lives that it’s become a trend.
“Freak! Slut! Cripple! Homo, homo, homo!” Cry the intolerant, ignorant, insecure students that roam the halls of Westerberg High School, most of whom only bully to fill the voids that others have created inside of them.
“Can’t we be seventeen?” Veronica Sawyer asks, not wanting anything to do with what’s happening around her. She just wants to have fun, get through high school, and get on with her life. Unfortunately, similarly to what many teenagers face today, her world around her crumbles as she deals with peer pressure, her friends almost dying, and most of all, feeling as though she’s not good enough.
As sad as it is, I know someone like Heather McNamara, who crumbles under the judgement of others. I have a JD in my life, who simply chooses to throw hatred at the problems around him instead of trying to fix them. Heather Duke? She’s a part of my high school experience, too. Suicide is funny to some people, apparently. The Westerberg students, boy, are they there, too. They’re surrounding lockers, lurking in the cafeteria, and waiting outside of the bathrooms for a specific student to appear so they can shred them to pieces with their words.
And Veronica? In my opinion, everyone and anyone who enters the world of Westerberg High embodies her, along with all her talents and flaws. I am a Veronica Sawyer: just trying to get by without disintegrating like everyone else.
Julia Bifulco is a grade 10 student at Vincent Massey Collegiate in the English Montreal School Board