Weathering the Heathers
MUCH is said about the hectic schedules bestowed on WAAPA students and the same is true for staff too.
Associate dean of performance Andrew Lewis has worked at WAAPA for 10 years after training as a director there more than 30 years ago.
In between he directed theatre in Melbourne and Sydney before moving into television, directing everything from Home and Away to Play School.
“I came back to Perth to visit family (he grew up in Swanbourne) and to direct a children’s television series,” Lewis said.
“They asked me to come in and direct a play here at the same time they were starting up the WA Screen Academy, which is a sister school to WAAPA at ECU. So I’m the head of performance at WAAPA but also come across to the WA Screen Academy; I have a very big portfolio that I love – music theatre, acting, dance and all of the WA Screen Academy as well.”
Lewis’s focus is on directing third-year music theatre students in Heathers the Musical, inspired by the 1988 American cult film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and set in a time when school massacres and teenage suicide were not so common.
“It’s a deep dark satire on high school life in America in the 1980s,” he said.
“It uses that idea of Mean Girls and takes it to a much darker edge. It ties in teenage suicide, bullying and all those types of heavy scenes and delivers it in a very entertaining and humorous manner.”
Lewis said he chose the musical for this year’s program after seeing the show in Melbourne last year and watching clips from an off-broadway production on Youtube.
“I didn’t mind the film but I just thought the musical delivered it better,” he said.
“Ultimately it’s a great comedy about two high school students who unintentionally make suicide popular and is for anyone who likes The Breakfast Club, Clueless or Mean Girls. It has some dark undertones but is really audacious and dramatically satisfying, providing great scope for our students.
“The students have lapped it up and love it because the songs are rock/pop and they’re playing characters their own age, which is rare.”
Nick Errol and Monique Warren with and Heathers (from left) Meg Mckibbin, Jenna Curran and Daisy Valerio.