A day in the life of the cast and crew of “Heathers”


Annemarie Mullet, Staff Writer

For the audience of “Heathers: the Musical”, the show starts when the lights dim and the music plays. For the cast and crew: the show begins much earlier than that. The crew is often the first to arrive, sometimes hours before the show starts, depending on what technical difficulties need to be solved. 

“Call is about two hours before curtain, and that enables students to do vocal and body warm-ups, mic check, costume, tap in,” the director, Lindsey Mantoan, shared. Call is when actors need to arrive, and the curtain is when the show officially starts and the lights dim.  

The show day begins with the cast getting into makeup. This is done in the dressing room, where the cast hangs out and chats while getting ready. The makeup in itself is the first step to getting into character. For the cast, these are people they’ve spent the whole semester in rehearsal with.

Hadley Nelson, who plays Veronica Sawyer, shared the importance of the cast to her. “My favorite part of doing the musical is by far the people. I love coming to rehearsal and seeing everyone every day. The experience would not be worth it without all the people I’ve worked with,” Nelson said.

“I like the sense of community that we have. I think it’s ironic because the show is about being lonely and not having a community. When you’re a teenager, you don’t have that, but now that we’re in college, we can bond over it,” Elliot Curry, playing Hipster Dork, shared. 

Daria Jones, playing Heather Chandler, gestured at the two fellow Heathers and then the whole dressing room when asked what her favorite part of the show had been. “These two, there’s no one I’d rather do this with. The vibes have never been off,” she said, “I’d still be friends with all these people outside of the production. It’s a really good team.”

The strength in the community between cast members bleeds into warm-ups, which follows makeup. Warm-ups are a chance for the cast to stretch out, get moving, and wake up their voices. And, because Heathers is a musical, warming up the vocal cords is necessary.

Garret Crouch, playing Kurt Kelly, highlights how important the music has been for him. “I really enjoyed music rehearsals with this cast; everyone is so good with music. Rob Fishel is a wonderful music director, so the music has been incredible,” Crouch said.

The music director, Robert Fishel, was a guest artist brought in for the musical. Along with students from the music department and a few other guest artists, they compose the orchestra, or pit, in theatre terms. 

Since there are so many different numbers, while the cast is doing makeup, the pit is warming up, getting ready for the cast’s warm-up. 

The pit is essential to the cast, as they need to work together to make the musical numbers as smooth as possible. And, boy, are there a lot of musical numbers in Heathers. 

The Assistant Director, Bee DeGraw, highlights their favorite part of the show as a sweet musical number. “I love the song Kindergarten Boyfriend. I think it’s the sweetest song, and it breaks my heart and makes me cry every time no matter how much I listen to it,” they said.

“I love the whole song, Never Shut Up Again, and the last song in the musical, the Seventeen reprise, is so cute. I just love it,” Anna Dahlvig, playing Preppy Stud, said. 

Once the cast’s warm-up is over, some actors refresh their makeup and get in costume. However, the actors in fighting scenes stay and participate in fight call. 

Fight call is where the actors run the scenes with fights. “You do fight call slowly to get the cobwebs gone and to prevent accidents and injuries. As long as you remember the choreography, an actual injury will be avoided,” Mantoan explained.

In the fight call, the fight captain watches every fight and checks in to make sure the actors are fine. In “Heathers”, the fight captain is Weston Lawrence, playing Ram Sweeny.

“I love the fight scenes. I’m the fight captain right now, and combat is one of my favorite things to do on stage. Getting to die onstage has been a dream for me,” Lawrence said.

After the fight call comes the mic check. All of the actors have a mic, and the sound engineer in the booth is in charge of turning it off and on when they’re speaking. At mic check, the booth ensures all the mics are working properly by having the actors talk into them onstage.

Being dressed and mic’d up causes a lot of excitement for the cast. For some cast members, they’ve been waiting to play these characters for a while. 

This is true for Katie Jones, who plays Martha Dunnstock. “For me, the best part about Heathers is getting to play a dream role. I’ve wanted to play Martha since high school, so this is a dream. Martha is such a sweetheart, and I’m so excited to play her,” Jones said.

“J.D. has been my dream role since high school. I love putting on costumes and getting to skulk around in the trench coat. And, this is my last production at Linfield,” Lucy Gordon, playing J.D., said.

Heathers cast photographed by Nathan Herde.

After mic check, the director gathers the cast for “tap-in.” Tap-in is where the cast takes a moment to do breathing exercises and come into the space.

At this point, the show is pretty close to curtain. So, the actors scramble to finish getting ready. Some costumes were even custom-made for the actors.

Chloe Brady, playing Heather McNamara, is one of the cast members who got a specialized costume. “Laurel Peterson, the costume designer, is a freaking genius, and she made my costume by hand to my measurements, which is amazing,” Brady said proudly. 

The stage manager gives a call 5 minutes before curtain of places, signaling to actors the show is about to start. The actors move to their starting paces and await the dim of the lights and the starting note.

While the show runs, much happens behind the scenes. Stage managers move backstage, and the wardrobe crew helps with quick changes. 

Dez, a wardrobe crew member, highlights the craziness of quick changes. “There’s the 12 million quick changes that have to happen that we’ve been getting really good at. I also thoroughly enjoy the very fast, quick change at the end,” Dez said.

Sydney Monroe, Assistant Stage Manager, enjoys getting to work backstage. “For me, the best part has been seeing what it’s like to work backstage because my high school didn’t have that opportunity. So it’s been cool to do the behind the scenes instead of acting now,” Monroe said. 

Once the show is over, and the audience is gone, the cast gets out of costume and resets all the props for the next show. If the Director has notes, they will get those as well.

Then, the actors are free and ready to do it again for the next show.