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Pegasus Players’ ‘Heathers’ tackles teen darkness with hope

Photo by Daniel M. Luciani.

Norwich University’s Pegasus Players brought the controversial musical “Heathers” to life this spring, tackling heavy themes like bullying and teen suicide while delivering a powerful message of hope.

“This production was great. I had never been to a play/musical like this before. I loved it… it exceeded my expectations,” said Colin Bostwick, 21, a civilian environmental science major from Falmouth, Massachusetts.

The production explored difficult subject matter, from bullying and teen suicide to school violence, through the lens of satire. One of the significant challenges the crew faced was navigating the heavy and triggering topics of the show in a respectful and sensitive manner.

“Despite the show’s dark themes, one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved was the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of individuals at Pegasus,” said Tatum Laliberte, 20, a civilian junior communications major from Bristol, Vermont.

“My primary responsibilities included memorizing lines, learning choreography, collaborating with cast members,” Laliberte said.

“The hardest part about portraying Jason Dean (JD) was living up to the expectations that the audience held for the character,” said Casey McMullen, 21, a junior civilian education major from Rutland, Vermont.

“I approached this difficulty by doing deep scene analysis and watching multiple renditions of the character before rehearsing the role.”

In staging such an intense production, Jeffry Casey, associate professor of theatre, emphasized open communication and mental health support.

“For the audience, we similarly try to be upfront and announce that these topics will be raised in the play,” Casey said.

“The most rewarding part of this process was getting to work with such an amazing cast and crew who consistently helped me maintain my character on stage and keep me grounded to reality when backstage,” McMullen said.

For some actors, portraying characters in such a controversial musical proved no easy task, especially maintaining their roles and staying true to the darker personas.

“Getting the audience to truly fall into thinking that I was the most egotistical girl on stage was extremely hard,” said Nicole Perault, 21, a senior civilian nursing major from Nashua, New Hampshire. “But it was made possible by pushing myself into a confident headspace and trusting my gut in that my other actors have my back.”

In “Meant to be Yours,” a song sung by McMullen, it was Perault’s job to bring a bedsheet noose onto the stage to safely simulate Veronica’s fake death.

“It was almost horrifying the first couple of times,” Perault said.

Despite such obstacles, the cast delivered a gripping performance that resonated with attendees.

“On Friday night, there was just this absolute uproar that Heather died,” Perault said. “I remember opening one eye on stage to watch Lillian and Casey acting to fill in the absolute hole for that lack of lines due to screams filling the house.”

As the curtain closed, audiences were left contemplating the play’s deeper meaning.

“The play itself is pretty clear in what it wants to convey,” Casey said. “It’s a satire of the seemingly endless stream of cruelty that defines a lot of young people’s experiences in high school and even in college.”

While “Heathers” didn’t flinch from harsh realities, its message encouraged embracing youthful joy and human compassion. “We can be beautiful,” the opening number declares, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness.

Putting on such an ambitious show was immensely challenging.

“The biggest challenge was producing a musical,” Casey said.  “A ‘straight play’ is comparatively easier, but a musical requires putting together acting, singing, and dancing—along with lights, costumes, scenery, and microphones.”

Yet the hard work paid off. “It’s hard to exaggerate how proud I am of the entire team,” Casey said. “Honestly, I never know if the play will come off until we see it all together during the dress rehearsals. It’s kind of an act of faith.”

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About the Contributor
Andrii Shadrin
Andrii Shadrin, Digital Editor
Andrii Shadrin is the Gudion's Digital Editor. He is currently a civilian student, graduating with the class of 2026. He is majoring in English, Communications, and International Business. Outside of school, Andrii immerses himself in the community by being the president of the Slavic Club, Student Ambassador for the Admissions Office, and Translation Editor for the Chameleon.
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