Exploring suicide, sexual assault and gun violence in a suburban high school setting, Bowdoin’s student-run musical theater group Curtain Callers will perform the satirical, dark comedy “Heathers the Musical” this coming weekend. 

The musical is based on the 1988 film “Heathers,” a cult classic set in a fictional Ohio high school. Unlike the movie, the show is focused primarily on the relationship between Veronica and J.D., two nerdy outcasts.  

 “It’s a high school comedy-drama gone so wrong,” said director Holly Hornbeck ’18. 

The play centers around Veronica, who is invited to become friends with a group of popular girls at school, all named Heather. As the “Heathers” start to compromise Veronica’s image as the friendly girl, she devises a plan with the rebellious J.D. to kill the cool kids. 

“Veronica is super satirical, ironic and ‘girl power all the way,’ so I have some rock-out, strong numbers. I love playing this character who’s just a really strong woman,” said Phoebe Smukler ‘17, who plays Veronica. 

This year, “Heathers” will be performed in Kresge Auditorium, a location that allows the show to use more advanced audiovisual equipment. In the past, the Curtain Callers have put on performances such as “Sweeney Todd” in Chase Barn, which is not ideal due to its small size and lack of equipment. Hornbeck hopes that performing in Kresge will revamp the Curtain Callers’ image. 

“It’s going to be a way bigger production than Curtain Callers has put on,” said Hornbeck. 

Hornbeck decided she wanted to perform “Heathers” because of its popularity and cult following, and received enthusiastic responses when she told people she was considering directing it. 

“I wanted an edgy show, I wanted a funny show, but I didn’t want to put on a show like ‘Rent’ because that was too much to live up to,” said Hornbeck. 

The show also presents sensitive subject matter such as sexual assault and homophobia in a comical way and discusses the daily, relatable struggles of suburban high schoolers. 

“The show does say a lot about, no matter who a person is and how they portray themselves, everyone does have inner insecurities and deeper issues,” said Hornbeck. “I think that the show itself takes these characters that seem so one dimensional, but then you are able to see their deeper struggles within their relationships and friendships.”

The show’s intense, violent topics are presented in such a nonchalant way that Hornbeck and Smukler hope that it will bring about discussion and draw awareness to the fact that these subjects are difficult to discuss. 

“It’s satire and it’s dark … It’s definitely an imperfect show, but I do still think it has value as a satirical, dark comedy,” said Hornbeck. “You’ll be able to see the characters go on a journey and mature. It’s a coming-of-age story. I think it’s going to strike exactly the right tone.”

The musical will be performed this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are free and not required in advance.